More on Taiwan…

Note this recent (just today, March 17…actually dated the 18th–it’s 12 hours later in China) State Dept report on Taiwanhttp://www.state.gov/p/eap/rls/rm/2010/03/138547.htm

UPDATE:  Further analysis on US-China-Taiwan misperceptions from Foreign Policy, sent by a classmate:  http://chinatrade.foreignpolicyblogs.com/2010/03/12/chinese-misperceptions-of-americas-taiwan-strategy/



Many thanks for an excellent and informative first session.  I’ll email (and post) soon concerning the 2nd session.  In the interim, check out this OpEd sent from another participant:  Paul Krugman (whose course I took while at Princeton) discusses Chinese currency issues in the NYTimes OpEd.


An analyst from last week, Daniel Drezner, responds:


Below are the readings for the first meeting which will have two somewhat dichotomous parts (separated by a break, of course).  First, I will introduce the course and, in lecture style, discuss the aim of trying to unravel the ambiguity in the Sino-US relationship.  The readings from Ikenberry and Drezner will be the focus of this section.

The second section will involve a more historical analysis of the origins of the US relationship with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the founder of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or China as we know it today.

Finally, I wanted to link a quick bit about the Chinese military or People’s Liberation Army (PLA).  Drew Thompson has some great observations and gives a good basic history in “Think Again:  Why China’s Military is not YET a threat”.  We can note the transformation of the PLA from a huge military focused on Taiwan and overwhelming with numbers to a much more ‘lean’ force.

Looking forward to the 15th!

Class 1, March 15:  Introduction to ‘Friend or Foe’ and the ‘loss of China’ (Sino-US relations until 1949)


Attached and pasted (text only) below is the updated Syllabus for the course.  We will use this blog as a potential discussion board and I will post any interesting new links concerning Sino-US relations to the blog.  This is not a public blog (it’s not accessible via search engines like Google) so, feel free to post away!


Friend or Foe:  The US relationship with China since 1949

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (Tufts University)

Spring 2010, Wednesdays 1:30-3:30

Course description

The China-US rapport is deeply ambivalent.  There are inevitable tensions between the world’s most prominent democracy and the only remaining ‘communist’ power, at the same time there is inevitable need for cooperation on key world problems.  In looking at both the history of the Sino-US relationship and the current issues facing both countries, that ambiguity is at once highlighted and illuminated.  We are faced with the difficult question:  Are the two countries friends or foes?

The course will be divided in half with a focus on 1) historical relations and 2) current major issues.  The first four classes will be related to the historical relationship between China (PRC) and the US by looking at 1) relations up to 1949; 2) the Taiwan question; 3) rapprochement in the 1970s; and 4) the relationship after the Tian’anmen Square incident.  Current issues are really the key to the class.   Our first goal is to understand the historical relationship then see how that impacts current affairs such as 1) nuclear issues with respect to North Korea and Iran; 2) climate change; and 3) global financial crisis.  The final class session will explore the future of the relationship with this past/history and current context in mind.


Ivan Rasmussen is a PhD candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.  He has a background in the study of international affairs at both Tufts University and Princeton University. Beyond functional interests in US diplomacy, conflict resolution, and international organizations, he is regionally focused on Asia and China.

(NB  Some additional readings may be added based on the interest of the seminar participants not as requisite reading.)

Part I:  Key historical moments in US-China Relations

Class 1, March 15:  Introduction to ‘Friend or Foe’ and the ‘loss of China’ (Sino-US relations until 1949)


  • John Ikenberry. “The Rise of China and the Future of the West”. Foreign Affairs. Jan 2008.
  • Daniel Drezner. “Uncle Sam vs the Dragon”. The Spectator.  Feb 2010.  http://www.spectator.co.uk/spectator/thisweek/5780913/uncle-sam-vs-the-dragon.thtml
  • James C. Thomson, “The United States and the Loss of China,” in et al., Sentimental Imperialists: The American Experience in East Asia (New York: Harper & Row, 1981). SKIM
  • Roderick Macfarquhar, “Symposium: Rethinking the Lost Chance in China,” in Diplomatic History (Winter, 1997), 71-115. SKIM

Class 2, March 22:  The Taiwan Question


  • David Lampton.  Same Bed, Different Dreams. University of California Press.  2001. SKIM
  • Consider also the current role of nationalism in the US-China-Taiwan triangle.  Some of my own work: “Regional conflict and Contrasting nationalisms:  The impact of nationalism on the China-Taiwan conflict negotiation.”  Chinese Yearbook of International Law and Policy.

Class 3, March 29:  Rapprochement in the 1970s


  • James Mann, About Face: A History of America’s Curious Relationship with China: From Nixon to Clinton (New York: Knopf, 1999), 78-193.
  • Ralph N. Clough, Cooperation or Conflict in the Taiwan Strait? (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999). SKIM

Class 4, April 5:  Relations after Tian’anmen Square


  • William Theodore De Bary. Asian Values and Human Rights. Harvard University Press.  Chapter 1.
  • Daniel A. Bell, East Meets West: Human Rights and Democracy in East Asia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000). Selections.

**To consider changes in China’s legal/human rights structure see some of my own work: “Torture in the US and China”.  Asian Journal of Public Affairs.

Part II:  Current affairs in Sino-US relations

Class 5, April 12 (RESCHEDULE):  Nuclear issues—a shared goal of collective security?  AND UN peacekeeping—China’s increasing presence and…power?


  • Jiang Zhen. “Impacts of Iran’s Nuclear Issue on China-U.S. Relation”. US Naval Academy.
  • Nicholas Eberstadt and Joseph P. Ferguson. “The Korean Nuclear Crisis: On To The Next Level.”  NBR’s Strategic Asia.
  • Helene Cooper and Martin Fackler. “Obama Says U.S. Seeks to Build Stronger Ties to China”. The New York Times. November 13, 2009.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/14/world/asia/14prexy.html?_r=1)
  • Joel Wuthnow. “China and the Processes of Cooperation in UN Security Council Deliberations”. Chinese Journal of International Politics 3:1 (March 2010).
  • Ivan Rasmussen. “Ambiguity or Ambivalence: China’s impact on UN peacekeeping”. Unpublished.

Class 6, April 26:  Climate change—an unwilling partnership?


Class 7, May 23 (RESCHEDULE):  Global financial crisis—the economic ties that bind?


  • Fareed Zakaria.  “The Recession’s Real Winner: China turns crisis into opportunity.” Newsweek.  October 26, 2009.
  • Daniel Drezner.  “White whale or Red Herring:  Assessing Sovereign Wealth Funds”.  The Glasshouse Forum. 2008.
  • Excerpt from China Safari. Serge Michel and Michel Beuret.  Prologue and Chapter 1. (Washington vs Beijing Consensus)

Class 8, May 10 (RESCHEDULE to May 7?):  Concluding discussion of the future of Sino-US relations


  • “Administration’s Vision of the U.S.-China Relationship”. James B. Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State. Keynote Address at the Center for a New American Security. Washington, DC. September 24, 2009 (http://www.state.gov/s/d/2009/129686.htm)

**Post-seminar event:  Chinese food dinner at Chili Garden in Medford, MA