Relations between China and the United States are often strained,
and the current U.S. position may draw a harder line than in the recent
past. Yet, China has violated several nuclear nonproliferation trade agreements
over the years, but Washington has chosen to basically overlook them.
Also, China was recently voted into the World Trade Organization with
almost full American support, proving that economics continues to be the
driving force behind East-West agreements.
Beijing had denied selling nuclear components to Third World countries
in the 1980s and early 1990s, reassuring the United States that China
was adhering to nonproliferation guidelines. And so U.S. trade sanctions
were quickly lifted. Then the C.I.A. discovered that by the mid-1990s,
missiles and nuclear technology had been sold to Algeria, Iran, Iraq,
Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. This transfer of
knowledge and materiel could significantly affect nuclear arsenals around
the world, yet the trade continues unabated from the U.S. to China, and
from China to the Middle East.
After the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, President George Bush restricted
China's trade privileges, but only for a few months. In the 1990s, President
Clinton completely removed many of the limitations on trade deals between
the two countries - first, nuclear proliferation issues were dropped,
then those concerning violations of human rights in China.
In October 2000, China was voted into the World Trade Organization, a
step that will guarantee greater access to foreign markets. But the possibility
of U.S. military assistance to Taiwan threatens East-West commercial contracts,
and Chinese President Jiang Zemin has promised to halt trade contracts
if the U.S. provides Taiwan with up-to-date technology.
President Clinton followed a "strategic partnership" policy regarding China. President George W. Bush may likely treat China as a "strategic competitor."
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Political Evolution of China"