Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

U.S.-China Relations

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

U.S.-China Relations

Article excerpt

The East Asian security environment is determined principally by the triangular U.S.-China-Japan relationship, and especially the key U.S.-China one. The latter relationship is a source of much longer term uncertainty for East Asia, given the strategic rivalry between the two powers and their different visions of a stable East Asia, for the Americans one based on the existing bilateral U.S. alliances with five regional countries, for China without those alliances.12

The year 1999 saw U.S.-China relations on a roller coaster ride from the lows in the aftermath of the American bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in April to a more accommodating mutual stance later in the year, as highlighted in the agreement on China's entry into the WTO and the decision to resume military-to-military contacts. The WTO agreement was a historic one, reflecting a recognition on the part of China that further reform was critical for China's longer-term economic health and stability, and hence for becoming a more complete great power, notwithstanding the risks to Communist Party rule that it might entail.13 On the American side, the agreement reflected not just the importance of the Chinese market for American goods and services, but more important, an American decision to continue to engage China and bind it to a rule-based international regime. The agreement elicited favourable reactions in Southeast Asia both for the promise of better business opportunities from China's WTO membership and for its broader strategic import. …

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