A policy stressing fewer threats and more inducements seems to be the core of President Bill Clinton's new formula for China relations. Acknowledging in September that relations between the two nations had drifted into "rough waters," the Administration formulated its new policy in the hope of ending the acrimony that marked US-China interaction over the summer and building a more positive framework for addressing US concerns in human rights, arms control, and trade.
Hammered out after months of intra-Administration review, Clinton's new China policy was communicated to Beijing at a late-September meeting between US National Security Advisor Anthony Lake and Chinese Ambassador to the United States Li Daoyu. Key components of the new policy include US reaffirmation of the one-China policy; a restated desire to cooperate on a range of common interests; a resumption of high-level contacts, including between militaries; and active promotion of trade links. At the same time, Lake emphasized that an improvement in China's human rights situation was imperative to ensure renewal of China's Most Favored Nation (MFN) status next year.
The Administration has already begun offering carrots to soften the MFN stick. New US government export promotion initiatives, including liberalization of export controls, are expected to boost US exports and provide China greater access to US technology (see p.5). To sweeten political relations, the United Sates sent Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy to China in mid-October and Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen is expected to visit China soon. Treasury Department personnel say Bentsen will likely meet with People's Bank of China and Ministry of Finance officials to discuss foreign currency issue and press for greater opening of China's financial services markets. Resumption of bilateral economic commissions and military discussions may also occur in the near future.
Clinton himself will meet with Chinese President Jiang Zemin following the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Seattle in mid-November. Clinton is expected to use the occasion to underscore his commitment to the MFN conditions specified in an executive order in May (see The CBR, July-August 1993, p.6).
HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNS
Many of these conditions focus on human rights, a front-burner issue for the Administration and Congress and one that touches a sensitive nerve in Beijing. In a sign that the …