on education 

on housing 

on foreign

The Role of 
Public Diplomacy
in the Evolution of
United States–
China Relations,
1972 through 2002

I.  The Getting-to-
Know-You Years, 
1972 through 1979

II.  1980 through 2000:
The Years of Explosive
Growth in Travel,
 Investment, Commerce, 
and Cross-Cultural
Study and
Language Training

III.  Todays United States
China Interdependence:
Lessons Learned and Their
Application to the Current
United States
Islam Divide


One China or Two?




Perspectives on Foreign Policy



 One China or Two?  page 6 of 6


        So what does the future hold for cross-strait relations?  No one can be sure. Leaders in Taipei and Beijing no doubt will continue designing cross-strait policies based on tangible economic and security interests, as well as  those intangibles, such as cultural and Chinese value-laden interests. But the relationship is also influenced by other things, like bilateral relationships, especially with the United States and changes in the international environment.

        Then there are the intractable differences that remain between the two sides: disparate economic and political systems, different standards of living, distinctive outlooks, and a lingering sense of misunderstanding and mistrust. These gaps must be narrowed and a better appreciation and acceptance of the differences between the two sides must be realized before cross-strait relations can proceed at other than a slow deliberate pace.

       There are definitely a number of reasons for guarded optimism. For one thing, the governments and people on both sides seem to understand that peace, security, and continued economic development are in the interests of both sides. Second, to meet  real needs, more and more exchanges will take place. Dialogue, although interrupted, continues, and with that dialogue the two sides should eventually reach some accommodation. And third, and very important, the dual processes of globalization and technological advance are causing both parties to move to a higher degree of interaction and understanding, which will lead them to recognize their common interests.

        A more cooperative relationship with China offers enormous potential benefits for the United States beyond assistance in the war against terror. It could greatly facilitate the handling of the increasingly dangerous situations on the Korean peninsula and in South Asia. And it would also contribute to a reduction in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies. Eventually it would reduce or even blunt the forces of mutual suspicion and rivalry and establish a foundation for much more harmonious relations. However, the key to deepening the United StatesChina relationship lies in establishing greater harmony between American policy toward Taiwan and our strategic stance toward Beijing.  The Bush administration and Congress must recognize that, despite the current improvement in relations, a very real danger of a United StatesChina conflict over Taiwan remains.

        How will all these various factors, trends, and developments play out in the long run?  Only time will tell. Frankly, I am both encouraged and optimistic on the Chinese side that a solution will be found. My personal contacts with both Taiwanese and mainlanders and the examples of Chinese pragmatism that I have observed over the past thirty years have led me to this strong feeling.  As for the actions of our government, I’m hopeful, but uncertain.   




1.  "In 1662 Dutch were defeated by a Chinese pirate, Cheng Cheng-kung (Koxinga), a loyalist of the Ming dynasty, who himself was on the run from the newly established Ching dynasty. Cheng Cheng-kung himself died shortly afterwards, his son took over, but in 1683, this last remnant of the Ming Dynasty was defeated by the Ch'ing troops.

   However, the new Manchu emperors were not eager to extend their rule over the island. They were "inland" people with little knowledge of the offshore islands and even less skill at naval warfare.

   In the subsequent years, immigration to the island from the coastal provinces of China increased, but the people came to flee the wars and famines on the mainland, and did not come on behalf of the rulers in Peking.

   Taiwan thus remained a loose-lying area for the next 200 years. At times, the Manchu attempted to extend their control over the unruly inhabitants, but time and again the islanders fought back. There were numerous clashes between the local population and officials sent from China, leading to the summary: 'Every three years an uprising, every five years a rebellion.'  [Excerpt from "Milestones in Taiwan's History,", a Web site maintained by organizations working toward Taiwan's independence.]

2.  U.S. Security Adviser Henry Kissinger Visits China:  Henry Kissinger, security adviser to President Nixon, left Pakistan for Beijing in the early morning of July 9, 1971, as a secret envoy (code name: "Marco Polo") to the People’s Republic of China. During his 48-hour stay in Beijing, Kissinger held nearly 20 hours of talks with Premier Zhou, which further opened the door of China-U.S. relations.