U.S.-China relations in historical context
With the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping approaching, headlines in the United States about China have been dominated by concerns about China’s economic expansion and stock market volatility, cyberespionage, reclamation activities in the South China Sea, and—most critically—China’s reemergence as a global power. However, this prevalent narrative tends to mask the important history of both the enduring issues and profound changes in the bilateral relationship—a history that can help provide the context for actions taken by both countries today and prevent misunderstandings and policy mistakes that could shake the world community.
On September 21, the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion that helped illuminate the historical context of the U.S.-China relationship. Three leading China historians presented accounts of U.S.-China relations during different periods in history, shedding valuable light on how historical perspective can help guide relations in a challenging time and in the long-term.
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[On the ongoing trade negotiations] If we’re serious about resolving the core issues that the U.S. has with China, then this is going to be a way station that’s going to require a lot more continued focus by the administration for a number of months if not years.