On January 25, the Center for Chinese Studies sponsored a seminar on U.S.-China relations, held with a delegation from the Shanghai Institute of International Studies (SIIS)
The general trend under Bush is positive despite ups and downs
The seminar was led by Madame Yu Xintian, President, and including Yang Jiemian (Vice President), Zhang Zuqian (Director, European Studies), Zhao Huasheng (Director, Russian Studies), Zhao Gancheng (Director, International Exchanges), and Chen Dongxiao (Research Fellow, American Studies).
SIIS, established in 1960, is an independent think tank funded by the Shanghai Municipal Government. Now with a staff of almost one hundred, SIIS is the largest and most prestigious institution of its sort outside Beijing. It conducts research on international issues, mainly covering the United States, the European Union, Japan, Russia, ASEAN and the Middle East. Priority is given to China's foreign relations, especially relations between big powers and the areas surrounding China. The Institute also supports research on the political and economic aspects of Shanghai's foreign relations.
Following is a précis of the comments of Professor Yang Jiemian, who summarized U.S.-China-Taiwan relations as viewed from Shanghai.
The general trend under Bush is positive despite ups and downs. The U.S. is trying to modify its unilateralism and seems to be considering multilateralism. The U.S. has realized that its most immediate enemy is not China, but terrorism. Bush understands that the United States needs more friends to deal with terrorism.
Even some right-wing members of Congress who have been very hostile toward China are less vocal now. At the same time, advocates in the United States of cooperation with China have been more outspoken. The root causes of the differences between the two countries are still there. This involves many issues, but the Taiwan issue is the most explosive. It cannot be solved overnight. Bush's upcoming visit to Beijing next month is important as it shows that the U.S. president places importance on relations with China. There is a need for cooperation in the post-Afghanistan stage of the war on terrorism.
On the economy, China and the U.S. should cooperate to try to prevent a repetition of the 1997 Asian crisis.
On cross-strait issues, in the two years since Chen Shuibian came to power in Taiwan, economic relations are on the rise. There are 50,000 Taiwan investment projects in China-maybe more, as these are understated because of tax evasion.
According to a recent survey, Taiwanese rank China 3rd after the United States and Canada as emigration points to start careers.
On the diplomatic front, things have been less positive. Chinese leaders have been quite flexible. In a September 10 statement, Vice Premier Qian Qichen said that so long as Taiwan keeps to the One China principle, China will be patient. Also, that Taiwan can keep their own government structure and even their own military. This statement was overshadowed by the events of the next day in New York and Washington. Qian Qichen also said that there was no need to argue over the name of a unified China-neither the name PRC nor ROC need be considered, just "China."
Within Taiwan, the pro-independence DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) has gained in recent Yuan elections. But these were local elections, not a referendum on independence.
As for the future, the threat of force by China can be effective only in preventing de jure independence. More important is to make China more attractive-more developed, more democratic-to appeal to the hearts and minds of a greater China. Peaceful unification is a long, protracted goal, but I think it can be reached.