The Foreign Service Journal, September 2012

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 13 Assessing Prospects for Sino-American Relations There is certainly no shortage of think-tanks, media outlets, govern- ment organizations and advocacy groups, all assessing Washington and Beijing’s diplomatic, political and eco- nomic moves and their ripple effects on the rest of the world. From that vast universe, here are three sites worth regular visits by any- one interested in following Sino-Amer- ican relations. Each offers a wide range of thoughtful perspectives, in- cluding voices from China and Asia. The first, run by the Carnegie En- dowment for International Peace ( ), surely needs no introduction for most Foreign Service members. Shortly after President Barack Obama’s inau- guration, Carnegie’s Beijing office is- sued a policy brief listing several principles intended to minimize mis- understandings between the two su- perpowers. That report, titled Avoiding Mutual Misunderstanding: Sino-U.S. Relations and the New Ad- ministration , is still relevant nearly four years later. Its authors encourage Washington to keep the Chinese Communist Party leadership’s motivations in mind as it formulates policy; take responsibility for the financial crisis, as Beijing wishes to be responsible only for its own do- mestic affairs; establish high-level rela- tions with PRC officials; pursue multi- lateral policies that include China as a responsible stakeholder; and cultivate a positive image of America to accrue political capital within Chinese society. The Obama administration has fol- lowed some of those recommenda- tions, but ignored others. So, on June 19 Carnegie followed up with a study titled America’s Hammering China’s Renminbi Makes Little Sense , under- cutting the popular notion that Beijing is the main culprit for America’s eco- nomic woes. For instance, Carnegie asserts, China’s surpluses are not driv- ing America’s deficits because there is a difference in timing for the trade bal- ances of each country. Project Syndicate ( www.project ) de scribes its mission as “bringing original, engaging and thought-provoking commentaries by esteemed leaders and thinkers from around the world to readers every- where.” A June 20 article by Yao Yang, “Couple’s Counseling for the U.S. and China,” certainly lives up to that ambi- tious billing. Yao, who is director of the China Center for Economic Research, a pro- fessor of economics at Beijing Univer- sity and the editor of China Economic Quarterly , takes as his starting point the notion that Washington and Bei- jing view their marriage as dating from China’s 1972 return to the interna- tional community, with the honey- moon being the next two decades, followed by the marital unrest of the past two decades. Like squabbling spouses, the two nations have engaged in behavior that harms the relationship and themselves, even as they become increasingly in- terdependent. China’s inadequate protection of intellectual property rights has deterred American and Eu- ropean companies from deploying new technologies there. By concentrating its support on a few favored firms, the PRC distorts the C YBERNOTES T heir business has been aggressive in Africa — in natural resources, in uranium, in oil. We are an open country, open to investors from anywhere. But we want ‘win-win’ partnerships, and that is our relationship with China. We will defend our interests, and they will defend theirs. —Mahamadou Issoufou, president of Niger, speaking about Chinese investments in Africa during a June 12 interview with the Financial Times; .