Clinton and China: Beyond Human Rights

One of the major uncertainties facing the Asia-Pacific, indeed, the entire international system, is the future role of China, a country in the throes of generational political succession. How that role is defined-whether the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is integrated into the world system as a responsible global power accepting international norms or play largely by its own rules-will be greatly influenced by the character of Sino-American relations. President Bill Clinton has gone from the poetry of campaigning (for example, “coddling the dictators of Beijing”) to the more nettlesome prose of governing. Part of that tortuous process has been a transformation of US. policy towards China from a nadir that almost unraveled the volatile relationship. However successful Clinton is in redefining the relationship, China poses imminent challenges and looming medium-term dangers.

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