China Leadership Monitor

A Smooth Ride Despite Many Potholes: The Road to Crawford

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

The last several months since Hu Jintao's visit to Washington have been very good ones in Sino-American relations. This is true not because the relationship was without sources of friction, but precisely because there were so many such sources, yet they produced little heat. One might draw the conclusion that this state of affairs means a permanent maturing of Sino-American relations. Unfortunately, one would have to base this assessment on scant and perhaps mercurial evidence, since there are so many domestic and international reasons for Beijing and Washington to cooperate in the near term. That word of caution having been voiced, the Bush administration and Jiang Zemin's government have chosen to build on areas of common interest and to minimize areas of conflict without backing away from core elements of their security policies and without ignoring the large differences that they still have over arms proliferation, relations across the Taiwan Strait, and the U.S. approach to the war on terrorism.