China-U.S. Relations During the 108th Congress
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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During the George W. Bush Administration, U.S. and Peoples Republic of China PRC foreign policy calculations have undergone several changes. President Bush assumed office in January 2001 viewing China as a U.S. strategic competitor. The White House faced an early test in April 2001 when a PRC naval aviation jet collided with a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea. But after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, U.S. officials came to see Beijing as a potentially helpful ally in the fight against global terrorism, while PRC officials saw the anti-terrorism campaign as a chance to improve relations with Washington and perhaps gain policy concessions on issues important to Beijing, such as on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. At the same time, the PRC was undergoing a substantial leadership transition to a new generation of younger officials. This, plus the U.S. anti-terrorism agenda, helped lead to a new sense of optimism and stability in the U.S.-China relationship that continued to prevail throughout the 108th Congress. Despite this new stability, sensitivities remained over long-standing bilateral issues. U.S. officials remained supportive of Taiwans security and its quest for international recognition, and PRC officials remained firm about reunifying Taiwan under the one China policy. The PRC remained suspicious about what it sees as an encircling U.S. presence in Asia and wary of U.S. technological advantages and global influence, while the Bush Administration periodically announced sanctions against PRC companies for violations of non-proliferation commitments. The PRCs early bungling of the SARS health crisis in 2003 posed new challenges for bilateral relations and was an early test for Chinas new leadership. The PRCs first manned space flight on October 15, 2003, raised new questions about the aspirations of Chinas space program and its implications for U.S. security.
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