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Policy Paper 40: Assessing the Policy of Engagement with China

Listed author(s):
  • Papayoanou, Paul A.
  • Kastner, Scott L.
Registered author(s):

    China is, and will continue to be for some time to come, a great concern to U.S. administrations. The Clinton administration has chosen to pursue a policy of engagement with China, arguing that it is best to try to bring China into “the community of nations†rather than to contain and isolate it. Integrating China through a policy of engagement has meant, most importantly, the maintenance and expansion of American trade with, and the encouragement of investments in, China. There have been some limits to the administration’s policy though, for a tough line has been taken toward China on membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and on the piracy of intellectual property (e.g., compact discs and videos). Engagement empowers pacific economic internationalists in China, while containment would likely bring to the fore more aggressive political and economic interests. What are the security implications of such a policy? This paper focuses on the impact that America’s economic relations in the policy of engagement with China have had, and will likely have, on the nature of Chinese foreign policy and on U.S.–Chinese security relations. In short, we argue that a policy of engagement will have beneficial consequences. Such a policy empowers more pacific economic internationalists in China, while containment would likely weaken those forces and might bring to the fore more aggressive political and economic interests. The risks of engagement are also insignificant in the near term. Because U.S. economic stakes in China are fairly small, they do not carry the danger of tying the hands of U.S. leaders should the Chinese pursue conflictual policies that require the United States to balance against China. A policy of engagement thus promises greater benefits than containment, with few risks.

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    Paper provided by Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California in its series Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, Working Paper Series with number qt7tz1x1jg.

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    Date of creation: 01 Jul 1998
    Handle: RePEc:cdl:globco:qt7tz1x1jg
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    1. Katzenstein, Peter J., 1975. "International interdependence: Some long-term trends and recent changes," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(04), pages 1021-1034, September.
    2. Grieco, Joseph M., 1988. "Anarchy and the limits of cooperation: a realist critique of the newest liberal institutionalism," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 485-507, June.
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