The basis for a friendly relation is trust, everyone agrees. So what is preventing us to build trust or what is destroying trust is the crucial matter in the US-China relation. Reviewing the history and geopolitical relation between US and China versus the close neighbors of the U.S., one ca point out that respecting a country’s sovereignty is fundamental in building trust and creating friendly relation. Even though the recent South China Sea saga touches on sovereignty issue, the real crux of the matter in the US-China relations is Taiwan and the Cross Strait Reunification (CSR) issue. Taking a position to impede CSR and provoking China to enter in arms race is the main reason for mistrust between the U.S. and China; ultimately they damage the U.S. national security. American citizens should understand this and urge their government to revise an outdated China policy.
"Hi, Doc, how was your China trip? Did you see our carriers in the South China Sea (SCS)? Will the U.S. start a war with China soon? "
"Hi, Joe, I was nowhere near SCS, I will tell you, China will not start a war and the U.S. won't have a war, so long as the American citizens understand what troubles the US-China relation. "
"Hey, Doc, You told me before that if the U.S. and China would have a friendly relation, then they could cooperate; it would be better off for all of us and the world. But, if China kept threatening the US security, how can we have a friendly relation?"
"Joe, do you feel threatened? Are you preparing for war? I am not. When Americans understand the crux of the matter in the US-China relation, there won't be any war. American citizens want peace and prosperity not war."
"Doctor Wordman, You are right, but tell me, what prevents a good US-China relation?!"
The above conversation took place at a gymnasium, Dr. Wordman gave Joe the following conclusion and story over 30 minutes of walking on the tread mill.
Joe, The crux of the matter in building a good US-China relation is really up to us. The basis for a friendly relation is trust, everyone agrees. So what is preventing us to build trust or what is destroying trust is the crucial matter in the US-China relation. Let me first tell you a bit of history, geopolitics and current events then come to the core question, why US and China won’t trust each other?
First, let's look at our two close neighbors, Canada and Mexico. We maintain a pretty friendly relation with them. How? Very simple, we respect their sovereignty. For Canada, we don't consider their 'Quebec Independence' issue our problem; we don't interfere in their racial, language and ethnic issues. We let the Canadians handle their own domestic problems. Trade, business competition, investment, border management, immigration, etc do not impact seriously the US-Canada friendly relation.
Mexico likewise, we had wars but we now respect Mexico's sovereignty. We do not send Mexican immigrants back to Mexico or to build an independent buffer State between us. Again, trade issue, immigrants, border security, even drug traffic do not impact seriously the basic US-Mexico relation. Internally, we might have different opinions regarding trade agreements with Mexico, but we don’t send carriers to Gulf of Mexico to make threats.
Now, let's look at China. The reason we don't have trust to build a friendly relation is because we don't respect China's sovereignty. So long as the U.S. interferes in China's sovereignty, we cannot build trust. Trade and technology competition, mutual cyber snooping and border conflict (we don't have borders other than giant ocean) should not seriously impact our relation. So what is the crucial sovereignty issue spoiling our mutual trust? No, it is not the tiny islands in the SCS; it is Taiwan.
Taiwan is the crux of the matter. The U.S. signed the Shanghai Communiqué in 1971 recognizing one China and supporting a peaceful reunification between Taiwan and the Mainland, known as the Cross Strait Reunification (CSR). But instead of treating the CSR as China's domestic issue, the U.S. persistently interferes in the CSR with a motive not so honorable. The U.S. ignores China’s repeated declaration that China would allow two or multiple political systems to coexist in China. The tiny Hong Kong is the living example, Hong Kong was returned to China by the U.K. in 1997; it has been transforming from a British controlled colonial island to a democratic governance with her security in trust with Mainland China. Hong Kong not only continues thrusting as a free port and an international finance center but also earning envy as a conduit bridging Mainland with the rest of the world.
Intentionally or not, keeping the CSR unsettled over four decades is a bad foreign policy preventing US and China having a trusting relationship. The history of US-China relation is a twisted one. It started in 19th century while the U.S. was one of the Western powers (UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany) invaded China's sovereignty. But the Americans were better regarded by the Chinese people because the Chinese revolutionary leader, the founding father of the Chinese Republic, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, was educated in Hawaii, the United States (Lolani Elementary school (1879-1882) and the Punahou high school (1883) where President Obama graduated in 1979). Many American friends of Dr. Sun helped him in his revolution endeavor.
Sun Yat Sen founded the KMT. After a dozen years, the revolution toppled the Qing Dynasty and established the Republic of China. But the Chinese revolution was never completed due to the ambitious and merciless Japanese invasion and China’s internal turmoil. Japan won the first Sino-Japan war (1894-95) and occupied Taiwan. Japan continued her aggression in Northern China which led to the second Sino-Japan war in 1937. While the U.S. supported the KMT, Russia supported the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the war. Japan eventually failed in her dream of conquering China. Japanese army was stuck in Mainland China for eight years facing fierce Chinese resistance. Finally, Japan was exhausted and surrendered in 1945 after the U.S. dropped the atomic bombs ending the WW II.
Post WW II, while the U.S. was focusing on the occupation and reconstruction of Japan, the CCP with Russian support won the Chinese internal war. The CCP captured the entire Mainland and the KMT government retreated to Taiwan. Partly out of feeling sorry and partly out of her ‘solemn quest of stopping communism', the U.S. stood behind KMT and protected Taiwan from CCP's attempt of liberating Taiwan. As time went on, the CCP parted way from the Soviet style communism which prompted Nixon and Kissinger to open up to China leading to the eventual recognition of one China and the support of a peaceful CSR. However, the U.S. did not take seriously China's pledge of one nation multiple political systems. Instead of promoting a peaceful CSR, the U.S. continued to arm Taiwan under the anti-communist theme. The unsettlement of CSR is the crux of the matter in a rocky US-China relation. Using Taiwan as a part of island chain to curtail China is adding insult to injury, turning disrespect of China's sovereignty to targeting China as an enemy.
Targeting China as a pure Communist country is an outdated concept. Curtailing China’s rise is either an insecure excuse or a devious hegemony objective. In either case it brings no honor to the U.S. nor peace and prosperity to the world. China is thousands of miles away from the U.S. compared to Canada and Mexico as next door neighbors, China poses no threat to the U.S. while we maintain the strongest military forces on this planet. Taking a position to impede CSR and provoking China to enter in arms race actually damage the U.S. national security. China’s slow but steady political reform should be recognized and pushing China to ally with Russia should be avoided. Encouraging Japan to rearm and deny WW II history is a bad policy. American citizens should understand ‘genuinely to honor one China and encourage a peaceful CSR’ will create a stable China with whom the U.S. can cooperate to create mutual benefits and world prosperity.