Maps of China
Good examples of heightened public awareness exist in both countries. In the New York Times recently, there was an article about how the Chinese children love to learn English. As for Americans, I can speak from my own experience. American children also like to learn Chinese. A few years ago the Lighthouse School in Orleans was awarded an Asia Foundation grant, the result of which was that I was asked to teach Chinese to a class of sixth graders. Both the class and the teacher loved it and gained from the experience. And for the past several years, I have been teaching an introductory class in Chinese to sixth graders at Cape Cod Academy in Osterville.
Another reason to be optimistic about the future of the relationship between China and the United States is our economic interdependence. Evidence of this connection is visible everywhere in both countries--to find it, all you have to do is go shopping in the local markets and department stores.
The two countries have also become increasingly interdependent politically. President Bush awoke to this fact after September 11 when he sought Chinese support in pursuit of the terrorists. A remarkable turnaround has taken place in United States–China relations during the past eighteen months, largely as a result of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Both sides have developed strong incentives to downplay their differences and seek common ground in a variety of areas, particularly in the struggle against terrorism. If properly managed, the situation could lead to an even more stable and mutually beneficial relationship.
A cooperative relationship with China offers enormous potential benefits for the United States beyond gaining China’s assistance in the war against terror. It would, for example, greatly facilitate the handling of the increasingly dangerous situations on the Korean peninsula and in South Asia. And it could also contribute to a reduction in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies.
The Taiwan and One-China Issue
The key to furthering our 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 current improvement in bilateral relations, a very real danger of United States–China conflict over Taiwan remains.
My judgment tells me that the United States should step back and let China and Taiwan settle the issue without our interference. Over the past year Taiwan residents have made over 3 million trips to the mainland and have spent roughly $3 billion there. The number of mainlander trips to Taiwan has exceeded 800,000 in the last few years. These exchanges have led to new bonds such as 150,000 cross-strait marriages and hundred of thousands of Taiwan people now living on the mainland. According to nongovernment sources, as of 2002, Taiwan-based capitalists have invested well over $140 billion in the mainland. These increasingly strong economic and personal ties between the mainland and Taiwan, combined with the well-known and proven strength of pragmatism as a Chinese-embedded characteristic, lead me to believe that they will find a peaceful solution to the “one China” question. (Continue to page 3.)