Several bloggers here have asked that we start a discussion regarding which of the U.S. presidential candidates might be better for China – or at least, better for a solid U.S.-China relationship.
While I am not quite ready to lead such a discussion yet, with the presidential debates still looming, the American Chamber of Commerce People’s Republic of China has recently published on its website two letters from the candidates regarding their visions of US-China policy.
Quoted below are excerpts from a letter by John McCain regarding US-China Policy Under a McCain Administration and a letter by Barack Obama regarding US-China Relations Under an Obama Administration.
I thought the letters were for the most part balanced. I thought it was interesting that both candidates concluded their letters with references to “human rights” and a vision of a shared international order – with the U.S. continuing to play a leadership role.
China’s growing power and influence endow it with the obligation to behave as a responsible stakeholder in global politics. China could bolster its claim that it is “peacefully rising” by being more transparent about its significant military buildup and by working with the world to isolate pariah states. In addition, how a nation treats its citizens is a legitimate subject of international concern in today’s world. China has signed numerous international agreements that make its domestic behavior more than just a matter of national sovereignty. To be a responsible stakeholder in the modern international system, a government must also be responsible at home, in protecting the rights of its people.
China and the United States are not destined to be adversaries. We have numerous overlapping interests and I hope to see our relationship evolve in a manner that benefits both countries and, in turn, the Asia-Pacific region and the world. Our ties must be rooted in a broader regional and international order that provides the indispensible bedrock for the shared prosperity and stability we all desire. America itself must be a stakeholder in that system, and we must take seriously our responsibilities to contribute to it. It is in this spirit that America’s relations with China, and with the countries that comprise the region surrounding it, should proceed.
Greater progress in protecting the human rights of all its people and moving toward democracy and rule of law will better enable China to achieve its full potential as a nation, domestically and internationally. China’s own people will expect, indeed demand, this. Such change will not weaken China, as its leaders may fear, but will provide a firmer basis for long-term stability and prosperity. China cannot stand indefinitely apart from the global trend toward democratic government, rule of law and full exercise of human rights. Protection of the unique cultural and religious traditions of the Tibetan people is an integral part of such an agenda.
Since the 1970s, America’s policy of engaging China has produced major benefits for both sides and for Asia overall. The US-China relationship has had its share of challenges, and new ones will inevitably emerge. Especially in a world of common security, where events in any corner of the globe can affect the entire planet, the world more than ever requires that every major country not only pursue its narrow interests but also accept its responsibility to pursue urgently needed solutions to these broader problems. My administration will seek to revitalize America and lead it to realize its full potential for constructive engagement in Asia and in the global arena.
Any thoughts on the candidates’ letters? Any preliminary perspectives on the candidates’ grasp of China? Any comments on the candidates’ general outlooks on the international geopolitical order?