ad info

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards



 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

China policy is hard to manage, easy to criticize

By Bruce Morton/CNN

March 19, 1999
Web posted at: 2:24 p.m. EDT (1424 GMT)

WASHINGTON (March 19) -- As the latest fallout from China spying charges hits Washington, the current debate over relations with China is taking a shape that is strikingly familiar:

"It's become painfully apparent, in the last few months certainly, that the current so-called modern policy of constructive engagement towards China really resembles an old-fashioned policy, much discredited, called appeasement," said presidential hopeful Gary Bauer, blasting the Clinton Administration's China policy.


"Outs" have been doing that to "ins" for a half century or so. The end of World War II. Communists under Mao Zedong win the civil war, the Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-shek flees to Taiwan, and in the U.S., where red-baiting and anti-Communist feelings run high, the cry is, "Who lost China?" as if it ever was America's to lose.

The Korean war made it worse: Chinese troops intervened to back North Korea, President Harry Truman's popularity nosedived, President Dwight Eisenhower got elected, approved a stalemate settlement and the great freeze settled in.

President Richard Nixon changed that. He first sent Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to China secretly, and then, in 1972, went himself. He may have been the only president for whom China was a political plus.

Mostly, it's been: "Do we trade with them or denounce them for human rights abuses?"

Anti-Chinese sentiment peaked in 1989, when the government sent its troops to shoot the students protesting in Tiananmen Square.

President George Bush said, no more high level exchanges, announced economic sanctions, but secretly sent his National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft to reassure the Chinese they just had to be cool for a while. The visit became public months later during a second visit. The outs -- now the Democrats -- once again attacked the ins.

"He (Bush) sent secret emissaries to China, signalling that we would do business as usual with those who murdered freedom in Tiananmen Square," criticized presidential candidate Bill Clinton.

But then Clinton won, and he was the in who restored China's "Most Favored nation" -- which really means, what everybody gets, trade status. And it was Vice President Al Gore who was embarrassed in 1997, drinking a toast to celebrate a business deal with Li Peng, who'd been in charge of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Clinton faces the old questions -- trade or human rights.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said last month: "Obviously the issue of human rights is going to be one of the major subjects that I take up with the foreign minister, one of grave concern."

But trade is running at a deficit, and critics also wonder if Clinton's campaign received Chinese money, if U.S. firms leaked satellite data to Beijing, and if American carelessness let Chinese spies steal nuclear secrets as well.

The trouble is, it's easy to criticize. Once you're in office, it's different.

China is a big, strong country. It's like having a rhinoceros in the house. You can't just ignore it, you have to deal with it somehow.


House OKs missile defense plan (3-18-99)

Senate backs missile defense system (3-17-99)

GOP senator accuses Clinton administration of 'cover-up' in spy case (3-17-99)

Congressional Quarterly: Trial done, GOP majority looks to legislate (2-22-99)

TIME: Star Wars: The sequel (2-15-99)

Albright's visit underlines differences with Russia (1-25-99)

In State of Union response, GOP promises to stick to 'practical matters' (1-19-99)


Friday, March 19, 1999

Search CNN/AllPolitics
          Enter keyword(s)       go    help

© 1999 Cable News Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.
Who we are.