July 13 "Dealing with the Chinese" with Douglas Paal, President,
Asia-Pacific Policy Center.
Mr. Douglas Paal spoke about the current state of U.S.-China relations
as well as what the Congressional staff group should expect when they
arrive in China, topics they are likely to discuss with their Chinese
counterparts, and how to handle discussion of sensitive subjects.
Paal contended that the Bush administration’s characterization of
China as a “strategic competitor? has resulted in a primary emphasis
on its relations with U.S. allies. However, trade relations with China
would remain strong. He shared his view that the administration got
off to a shaky start in its relationship with China, but that many
of those early problems would not have played out any differently
if there had been a Democrat in the White House. A Gore administration
would have had to still deal with immediate trade issues, weapons
sales to Taiwan, the surveillance plane crash, and the Olympic vote.
Paal further examined how the United States can segue out of all these
thorny issues into a more useful framework. He stated that the United
States now stands in a relatively stronger strategic position than
China, and therefore China interprets every move the United States
makes as a move against them. Despite this dynamic, Paal said that
the United States could still engage China while continuing to have
a strong defense posture. Specifically, Paal examined what the administration
wants from China in the short and long term. Included were the release
of the U.S.-Chinese scholars, improvement of U.S. commercial purchasing
rights in China, cooperation on the Korean Peninsula, curbing of encroachment
into countries like Burma and Cambodia. Finally, Paal stated that
the future of U.S.-China relations appears to have the components
for improvement because China has the desire to work on building a
strong relationship with the United States.