China's Economic Revolution and Its Implications for Sino-U.S. Relations

Wednesday, November 1, 1995

In the next few decades Sino-U.S. relations will be strongly influenced by four issues: economic friction, international security interests, human rights, and conflicting claims by Taipei and Beijing over sovereignty to Taiwan. Economic friction and international security concerns will dominate as China's economic and military prowess grows.

The prospects seem bright for China's economy to become productive and sustain annual growth rates of around 8 percent because in 1992 the Chinese Communist Party decided that the majority of its 150,000 state-owned enterprises would be restructured by the year 2000. This means changing property rights to corporatize the state-owned enterprises and creating a market economy for them to operate in. If China's leaders successfully carry out this revolution, China will not only have a large, prospering middle class but become a major military power.

To anticipate these developments, the United States should now forge a close working relationship with the People's Republic of China by taking the following steps: establish annual summit meetings and a hot-line communication between Sino-U.S. leaders; create a high-level Sino-U.S. committee of officials and experts to manage potential economic friction; expand scholarly exchange programs; encourage local government exchanges. These overarching arrangements will facilitate communications, enhance mutual understanding, build confidence, and reduce tensions between the leaders and political elite of both countries.