The Stealth Normalization of U.S.-China Relations

The September 11 attacks initiated an increasingly positive working relationship between the United States and China--quietly, subtlely, but undoubtedly real.

Issue: Fall 2003

THE 1947 Marshall Plan conjures to mind certain ideals of foreign policymaking--bipartisan constancy of purpose, political perseverance and vision. Adherence to these ideals secured both American strategic interests and free-market and democratic political values in Western Europe. Though it is less appreciated for doing so, U.S. China policy has followed a similar course. Indeed, Washington has persevered in a far-sighted China policy through seven administrations--from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, although this achievement did not come without periodically robust domestic debate. Even when presidents from Ronald Reagan, through Bill Clinton, to George W. Bush initially considered significantly altering the contours of the relationship with Beijing, each quickly realigned policy according to long-established principles once the costs of change to American interests became apparent.

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