Observers often think that policymakers make decisions as a result of carefully reasoned and vetted processes that take into account potential strategic and long-term implications. In reality, decisions by both U.S. and Chinese officials concerning the bilateral relationship have been made on the basis of very personal and short-term political reasons.
The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China was the most serious test of China's new leadership's ability to deal with crisis. Although the Chinese government has effectively contained the epidemic for now, there is much uncertainty about the effects of this crisis on China's political stability and economic performance.
The China Program invited two distinguished scholars to comment on the potential impact of U.S. political and military ties with Japan and Taiwan on the current Sino-U.S. relationship.
The Pentagon's proposal to sell missiles to Taiwan must rank in a league of most ill-considered policy initiatives by itself. Obviously, the timing for pressuring Taiwan to purchase these systems is awkward. The US should seek all the diplomatic and strategic help it can get from China, and clearly it is no time to slap Beijing in the face.
If the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia can reach a basic understanding on how to handle North Korea, the effort to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program and accept a reasonable "more-for-more" agreement, while not easy, should enjoy a reasonable chance of success.
Dr. Victor Yuan, Founder and CEO of Horizon Research, assessed the opinions of ordinary Chinese. His opinion survey results range from popular awareness of AIDS to assessment of the performance of mayors in major cities.
Many observers believe the current relationship between Washington and Beijing is the best it has been in over a decade. Discussants examine this turnaround, its origins, its features and the challenges that lie ahead, particularly with regard to security issues.
A freer flow of information and a more critical media in China would help sustain economic growth and strengthen prospects for democracy. The global spread of SARS shows that they could also help to save lives - both in China and abroad.