- NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

Congress and the Updating of the U.S.-China Relationship

Rick Larsen and Mark Kirk


This essay explores the role that the United States Congress can play in helping to foster mutual understanding between the respective governments and people of China and the United States.

Main Argument

Although the United States benefits from ensuring that an effective and educated message emanates from Congress, unfocused debate has lately diluted the effectiveness of Congress—both rhetorically and legislatively—when legitimate issues are brought to the floor. This essay thus seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of trade, security, and other relations between the United States and China, and offers a framework to strengthen bilateral ties.

Policy Recommendations

There are a number of ways to promote constructive relations between the United States and China:

  • view the U.S-China relationship as the most important diplomatic relationship for both countries
  • work to understand China’s new leadership distinguish between the security and economic issues of the bilateral relationship
  • build a larger diplomatic presence in both countries
  • build united support for Chinese investments in the United States
  • expand economic markets in China for U.S. small and medium-sized businesses
  • foster mutual understanding of both U.S. and Chinese regional concerns
  • create military-to-military cooperation whenever possible
  • encourage congressional visits to China to evaluate America’s diplomatic presence there and build relationships with key Chinese leaders