Some may consider the United States’ relationship with China to be a perplexing contradiction. Historically these two nations have never been willing to compromise, whether over Taiwanese sovereignty or Korean wartime tactics. This tumultuous relationship changed during the Cold War, though, when the United States supported China in thwarting off the Soviet Union. Over time the powerhouses developed deep-rooted ties that exemplify today’s interconnected global economy.
Although the partnership between the United States and China primarily revolves around economic incentives, such as cheap labor and manufacturing costs, some Americans equate the present unemployment rate to the amount of jobs being “exported” overseas. Moreover, American diplomacy in China represents different challenges, especially in terms of promoting human rights. From retaliating against Tibetan separatists to suppressing student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square - the Chinese government’s propensity for committing human rights abuses are vast and varied. Even today China is being scrutinized for its restrictive policies on freedom of speech and the infamous “Great Firewall of China” that limits citizens from accessing parts of internet that overtly promote democracy or an overhaul of the communist system.
Certain questions persist: should economic interests take precedence over China’s track record with human rights? Has the United States casted a blind eye over these issues? Is it still advantageous for American businesses to invest in China at the expense of preserving domestic industries?
The following articles illustrate the evolution of U.S.-Chinese relations. What began as a hostile rivalry has gradually transformed into an interdependent “love hate” relationship. Some of these pieces also showcase recent or ongoing discrepancies straining U.S.-Chinese diplomacy. These range from China’s increasing presence in the South China sea, an influx in Sino-African development projects, and the proposed Nicaraguan Canal competing with American economic interests in the Western Hemisphere. Considering that the communist nation increased military spending from $131 billion in 2014 to $146 billion in 2015, such geopolitical advancements from China are sending mixed messages across the world.