China’s Foreign Relations After Tiananmen: Challenges for the U.S.
NBR Analysis vol. 1, no. 3

China's Foreign Relations After Tiananmen
Challenges for the U.S.

by Harry Harding, Robert S. Ross, and Allen S. Whiting
December 1, 1990


In this issue of NBR Analysis, three leading China scholars focus on developments in China’s foreign policy since the Tiananmen Incident of June 1989. The Chinese government, as these essays show, has carried out important foreign policy initiatives on a number of different fronts. Soviet-American d├ętente may have lessened China’s strategic role in relations between the superpowers, but recent developments in China’s foreign relations demonstrate that U.S. policymakers cannot afford to discount the importance of China as a regional actor in the Asia-Pacific.

Harry Harding of The Brookings Institution delineates internal divisions among foreign policy elites in China and shows how these divisions translate into different foreign policy conciliatory gestures and alienating policies. Allen S. Whiting looks at China’s recent relationship with the Soviet Union and the measures taken by Beijing and Moscow to lessen tensions along their 4,600-mile border. The future course of Sino-Soviet relations, Professor Whiting shows, has broad implications for events on the Korean peninsula and in Southeast Asia. Robert S. Ross of Boston College examines U.S. policy toward China in the context of current uncertainties in East Asian regional security. While the post-Cold War period portends stable security relations between China and the United States, Professor Ross notes that domestic political factors in both countries serve to counter this trend.

All three essays were originally presented at “The Future of Great Power Relations in East Asia,” a conference held in Washington, D.C., in July 1990. NBR cosponsored the event with the Congressional Research Service of The Library of Congress and The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies-MacArthur Foundation Project on U.S.-U.S.S.R.-P.R.C Interactions.

Essays in NBR Analysis are authored by research associates from NBR’s international network of East Asian experts. We believe these studies will be of special interest to policymakers and others who monitor the vast changes under way in the Asia-Pacific region. An upcoming report will focus on the Soviet Union and its role in East Asia. Another will offer an outlook on Pacific security arrangements and international trade in the 1990s.

Kenneth B. Pyle,
NBR President