Chinese-American relations since the end of the Cold War

The end of the Cold War, the Reagan Presidency and the era of President George Bush are crucial to understand the current policies. That period was characterized by Realism and favoured good relations between the United States and China. Then, Tiananmen came as a dividing point : the dramatic events of 1989 threatened the balance previously built and remain present as a trauma in many American minds. President Clinton, by his strategy of engagement, drifted from a strategic vision of China to an economic-centred vision. In spite of some major crises, which looked like ghosts from the Cold War, the efforts of President Clinton left a deep stamp. The initial rhetoric of the first G. W. Bush Administration, calling China a «strategic competitor», swiftly underwent a metamorphosis after September 11; although the focus seems to be on the Middle East and on war on terrorism, The Middle Kingdom remains the main source of concern of the United States. The complex love-hate relation of China and United States is unique and their competition is positive in so far as it forces both countries to be creative in their domestic policy and to invent a new foreign policy going beyond well-established traditions and categories. – Summary AFRI-2005