Pacific Council and RAND Report Urges Restraint In U.S. Rhetoric Toward China
Report Calls for a U.S.-China Policy Based on Realistic Assessment of the
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Calling the need of "getting China right" a "deadly serious matter," a report issued by the Pacific Council on International Policy and RAND's Center for Asia-Pacific Policy urges ambitious American politicians to place China off-limits as a subject of demagoguery. The plea is contained in "The Chinese Future," a policy paper that provides an up-to-date discussion of China's rapidly transforming political, military, economic and social dynamics. The authors warn that U.S. leverage over China is limited and that U.S. policy must be based on balanced and realistic assessments of China's internal conditions. The authors conclude that the U.S. can elicit cooperation from Chinese leaders on a limited number of carefully selected issues. Common interests will emerge as China becomes interested in global markets and as each nation faces the challenges of governing in a new era of rapid technological growth and demographic change. The report cautions policymakers about adopting delusions of rapid democratization or aggressive military expansion, and warns against unwarranted expectations by the U.S. business community of access to markets. Further, the U.S. should harbor no illusions about the Chinese government's resolve to deter Taiwanese or Tibetan independence, China's historic sensitivities toward the west and Japan must also be taken into consideration when developing today's China policy. These are the conclusions drawn by the authors from the deliberations of a 72-member study group composed of business executives, lawyers, journalists and academicians from the Western United States and led by the Pacific Council and RAND's Center for Asia-Pacific Policy. The report was authored by China experts Dr. Michel C. Oksenberg, senior fellow and professor of political science at Stanford University's Asia-Pacific Research Center and former senior staff member of the National Security Council; Dr. Michael D. Swaine, senior political scientist in international studies at RAND and research director of the RAND Center for Asia-Pacific Policy; and Dr. Daniel C. Lynch, assistant professor of international relations at the University of Southern California. The study group was chaired by Gareth C.C. Chang, president, Hughes International and senior vice president, Hughes Electronics. China's Sweeping Transformation Based on more than 32 hours of study and discussion, the authors of the report conclude that China policy must be made in the context of four major transformations, which are carrying that country into uncharted waters: * China is changing from an agricultural to an industrial economy and from a rural to an urban society. For the past 20 years, the economy of a nation of 1.3 billion people has grown 10 percent a year. Every year, one percent of the population -- 12 to 13 million people -- has shifted from agricultural to non-agricultural employment. * China is shifting from a planned, command economy to a heavily regulated market economy and from a Leninist political system to some form of authoritarian or possibly democratic system. * Rapid economic growth is giving rise to a large and growing middle class with high expectations for a rising standard of living. Rising disposable incomes of millions of Chinese will have ramifications for the global economy, while, politically, the new middle class is increasingly armed with information and the communications tools to analyze the political scene and pursue new political roles. * China is completing a critical generational transition. Following a generation of communist revolutionaries, the successor generation has been educated as engineers and technicians and steeped in the mores of Chinese bureaucracy. Today's leaders are more pragmatic and less ideological. Daunting Problems Face China's Leaders China's rulers must govern in the face of daunting problems: * The nation is geographically and culturally diverse with a history of disunity and civil war. China's leaders today cannot assume the country will remain united. * Seven levels of government separate the rulers from the populace, with authority in many key aspects of the economy and society now dispersed to local leaders. The bureaucracy is vast and data is often lost between the layers of government. There are enormous challenges in ruling 31 provinces, 160 prefectures, 2,500 counties and cities, nearly 100,000 townships and urban wards, and over a million rural villages. * China must feed nearly five times the population of the U.S. on 60 percent of America's cultivated acreage. The population continues to grow, with 15 million additional laborers entering the workforce annually. * The leaders must respond to rising expectations for improved wages and living conditions, greater geographic and social mobility, and increased opportunity to participate in the decisions that affect peoples' lives. * Severe environmental problems pose serious health problems and constrain economic growth. * Problems are posed by an aging population, and by the need to import technology, equipment, petroleum and agricultural commodities, all required to sustain the growth rate and meet popular aspirations. * An immediate challenge to the current leadership is managing the transfer of the wasteful state-owned enterprises to private ownership. Policy Implications U.S.-China policy should take into consideration these factors. Among the report's findings: * The Chinese future is open and uncertain. China should not be seen as an enemy or as a sure partner that will pose no threat in the future. * China's future path will be determined by its own internal considerations. American leverage is important, but limited, in the short run, China's leaders will respond to domestic political and economic imperatives. * The U.S. should not develop an exaggerated sense of its own importance in Chinese eyes. If Chinese leaders do not respond to U.S. demands and urgings, it may be because of domestic considerations hidden from American view. * Because of China's uncertainty, U.S. policy must be flexible and nimble. Policy must not be tied to the fate of any particular Chinese leader. Setbacks and reversals to American policy should be expected. * American policy should not be rooted in the expectation that China can or will soon become a democracy. A commitment by China's leaders to instituting gradual democratization is the best the U.S. can realistically expect, and that commitment has yet to be credibly voiced. Even if there were a rapid move toward democratization, the U.S. must recognize the underpinnings of stability -- the rule of law, a competitive party system and a culture of tolerance and trust -- are lacking. * One of the biggest impediments to sustained economic growth is China's inadequate institutions: weak banking and revenue systems; overlapping and ill-defined governmental jurisdictions; a weak legal system; and a weak civil service system. * The U.S. must recognize the Chinese government's deep and enduring resolve not to permit Taiwanese or Tibetan independence. The U.S. should harbor no illusion that the Taiwan issue is not potentially explosive and could involve the risk of war. * The Chinese government is not fully in control of the society; the central government is not always in control of the regional and local authorities. The leadership fears the consequences of losing control could be disintegration on the scale of the Soviet Union. * China's economy will continue to grow, but will possess major vulnerabilities. The U.S. government should not arouse unwarranted expectations among the American business community. The 660-member Pacific Council on International Policy promotes the exchange of ideas on international issues, fosters public understanding of global trends and enhances international communication on economic, social and political questions. Founded in 1995 in cooperation with the Council on Foreign Relations and headquartered on the campus of the University of Southern California, the Pacific Council is an independent, non-partisan organization. Members of the Pacific Council are leaders and decision makers from business, labor, politics and government, religion, the media, law and other professions and are drawn principally from the Western United States. The RAND Center for Asia-Pacific Policy (CAPP) is a non-profit, non- partisan, multidisciplinary research center within RAND. Its mission is to provide decision makers with objective, cutting-edge research that aids in the formulation of effective policies for the Asia-Pacific region. The Center's research falls into the areas of international security, international political economy and human capital issues.
SOURCE Pacific Council on International Policy
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