This report addresses the debate concerning U.S.-China military relations. Specifically, it examines the goals of U.S. policy, assesses the benefits of the current relationship, and proposes a revised policy based on a realistic assessment of what such a relationship can accomplish. It also reviews the history of U.S.-China military relations, particularly the transition from cooperation in support of a strategic rationale to cooperation to form a strategic rationale, and recommends a future military relations program based on U.S. and Chinese goals and the constraints placed on military-to-military activities by both sides.
The report argues that the fundamental reason for the instability in military-to-military ties with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been the pursuit of specific policies by each government that are perceived by each to be inimical to its respective interests. The relationship has thus been affected by the stances of the two countries over Taiwan and differences in overall strategic intent.
The distrust engendered by the pursuit of these policies has resulted in each side viewing the other as a potential enemy. Because of the potential for armed conflict between the United States and China, and because China is the weaker power, the PLA has been reluctant to share even the most basic information with the U.S. military in a belief that it has more to lose than the United States by being open. Thus, the PLA has been a reluctant partner in many