Trade with China

December 5, 1980

Report Outline
The Developing China Trade
Long U.S. Interest in China
Trade Outlook for the 1980s
Special Focus

The Developing China Trade

Common Interests But Current Wariness

Visions of a lucrative China market are once again playing on the fancy of American businessmen. Since the full restoration of U.S.-China diplomatic relations in January 1979, trade between the two countries has almost quadrupled, approaching $4 billion this year. Chinese and U.S. officials are signing trade and exchange agreements by the dozen, and events are unfolding at dizzying speed as if to compensate for the 30-year break in relations.

The honeymoon may be short-lived, however. American businessmen are discovering that doing business with China requires much time and patience while the Chinese fear that the political atmosphere may not be so congenial with Ronald Reagan in the White House. Peking has greeted Reagan's election with caution because of his pro-Taiwan stand. Reagan, a longtime supporter of Taiwan, opposed severing formal diplomatic ties with that government as part of the normalization of relations with Peking.

Although he has retreated from the position that the United States should restore formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Peking's wariness has been reflected by recent statements. “It is our hope,” Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping said in a recent interview, “that during the presidency of Mr. Reagan the Sino-U.S. relation will develop more, not just mark time or retrogress….”

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