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President Obama’s Progressive China Policy

President Obama’s Progressive China Policy

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Nina Hachigian and Winny Chen detail the success of President Obama's China policy so far and offer recommendations on how to proceed at the S&ED meeting and beyond.
Nina Hachigian and Winny Chen detail the success of President Obama's China policy so far and offer recommendations on how to proceed at the S&ED meeting and beyond.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on May 21, 2010
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1Center for American Progress | President Obama’s Progressive China Policy
President Obama’s ProgressiveChina Policy
Assessing the U.S.-China relationship today and what lies ahead
By Nina Hachigian and Winny Chen May 2010
On he eve o his year’s Sraegic and Economic Dialogue meeing beweensenior U.S. and Chinese governmen ocials in Beijing, recen headlines highlighha he Unied Saes can work wih China, ha we mus work wih China, ha we will always champion is own ineress and values while doing so—and why hese eors can be exceedingly rusraing.Consider rs he apparen breakhrough on economic sancions agains Iran.Secreary o Sae Hillary Clinonannouncedha he U.N. Securiy Council,including China and Russia, were nally able o agree on a dra resoluion ha would place ougher sancions on Iran or is illegal nuclear program. Ten camehe newsha Norh Korea is o blame or he sinking o a Souh Korean warshipearlier his monh. While he inernaional invesigaion was ongoing, NorhKorean dicaor Kim Jong-Il had visied China and me wih is op leadership,inuriaing he Souh Koreans.Irriaing he Chinese(around he same ime o he Dear Leader’s rip) was heU.S. Deparmen o Sae’s enaive decision earlier his monho provideunding oa company linked o he Falun Gong movemen oulawed in China—a company ha has developed soware ha allows users o circumven governmen blocks,including, poenially China’s Grea Firewall. Finally, highlighing an issue ha islikely odominaehe Sraegic and Economic Dialogue, or S&ED alks, while inChina his week, U.S. Secreary o Commerce Gary LockecriicizedBejing’s eorso disadvanage U.S. businesses operaing in China via new Chinese atemps osuppor “indigenous innovaion” over oreign producs and services.
2Center for American Progress | President Obama’s Progressive China Policy
So how are Presiden Obama and op ocials in his adminisraion dealing wihhis complex realiy? Te adminisraion has racked up imporan, concreeachievemens in is dealings wih China on key global issues even as i challengesis leadership o do more. No surprisingly, he uure agenda wih China willremain ull o dicul challenges o naional imporance o boh counries, and wih global implicaions.Nex week’s second S&ED meeing, led by Secreary o Sae Clinon andSecreary o he reasury imohy Geihner, accompanied by some 200 U.S.ocials, will no doub reveal old and new poins o agreemen as well as ssures in bilaeral relaions. Bu he Obama adminisraion should coninue doing wha i’s been doing—engaging in seady and respecul negoiaion and pressure, maxi-mizing areas o cooperaion, such as on clean energy, and making common cause wih oher counries around he region and he world o bring China along inareas o disagreemen.In he pages ha ollow, we’ll deail why he Obama adminisraion’s approachedhas worked as well as i has, despiesorylines o he conrary  , and hen oer some brie recommendaions on how o proceed in he orhcoming S&ED meeingand beyond.
First days on the job
Upon his inauguraion, Presiden Obama reversed he rend o recen U.S. presi-dens since Ronald Reagan o iniially “bashing” China hen revering o busi-ness as usual aer several monhs. Insead, amid a raging global economic crisis,Obama adminisraion ocials reached ou o China o esablish a respecul working relaionshipocused on global challenges , boh bilaerally and hroughinernaional insiuions, including he newly empowered Group o 20 developedand leading developing naions. Tere were no reworks on Presiden Obamasrs visi o China in November las year, bu raher some candid dialogue andsome signican, hough incremenal, breakhroughs, including several new iniia-ives on clean energy.Bu he rs monhs o 2010 showed ha his careully calibraed approach didno come a he expense o assering U.S. ineress and American values whenhe wo naions disagree. Te presiden me wih he Dalai Lama, announced a$6.4 billion arms package o aiwan, pushed China hard or consensus and acionon Iran, spoke ou agains China’s coninued undervaluaion o is currency, and
3Center for American Progress | President Obama’s Progressive China Policy
in words and deeds addressed human righs violaions and limis on press andInerne reedom in he counry.China proesed each o hese acions, some vehemenly. U.S. Ambassador oChina Jon Hunsmanpu i blunly: “We rampled on a couple o China’s coreineress.” Neverheless, relaions are now back on rack, and soon he secondannual SE&D meeing will bring ogeher hundreds o American and Chineseocials rom across every major area o policy. Fieen cabine and agency headsrom he Unied Saes are raveling o Beijing nex week.
A progressive strategy
Te Obama adminisraion reoriened he U.S.-China relaionship o ocus onglobal problems. U.S. ocials wan o maximize cooperaion wih China on heseshared challenges, oen hrough inernaional insiuions, while working wihriends and allies in Asia and elsewhere o mainain a peaceul and sable geopo-liical environmen.In addiion o his ocus on sraegic collaboraion, oher progressive principleso naional securiy sraegy also inorm Obama’s China policy—U.S. leadershipon global challenges, invesing a home in U.S. economic srengh, and promoinghuman righs. A he broades diplomaic level, renewed and respecul U.S. inernaional leader-ship is cenral o U.S.-China sraegy. Because our naion is once again workingrigorously hrough he inernaional sysem, and ackling global challenges headon, China can no longer poin o U.S. inacion or acive eors o undermine iner-naional consensus—as was oen he case during he Bush adminisraion—asreason or China no o ac isel.Bu a home, oo, he Obama adminisraion’s invesmens in progressive domesicprograms are also cenral o Obama’s approach o China. Bringing down soaringhealh care coss in our counry hrough comprehensive healh care reorm willremove one o he reasons businesses oen cie o explain why hey oshore jobso China where he coss o doing business are lower. Invesmens in clean energ will allow esablished and young U.S. companies alike o compee in he lucraiveclean energy marke and compee wih Chinese companies or business aroundhe globe. Bolsering America’s innovaion economy by improving science andmah educaion and invesing in research, developmen, and commercializaion

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