China: Quest for Stability and Development

April 13, 1984

Report Outline
U.S.-China Relations
China in Transition
Peking's Foreign Policy
Potential Trouble Areas
Special Focus

U.S.-China Relations

Reagan Visit to Advance Bilateral Trade

Ronald reagan's coming trip to China will be the third by an American president since 1972, pointing up the importance this country places on achieving a good working relationship with its erstwhile enemy. In this election year, Reagan will use the highly publicized event to underscore his most widely acclaimed foreign policy success to date, improved diplomatic and trade relations with the world's most populous nation. In the view of this most ideologically anti-communist administration in recent memory, communist China offers a unique opportunity both to counter Soviet expansionism and open up a vast export market for U.S. goods.

Reagan's trip follows Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang's 10-day visit to the United States in January. Zhao's was the first such trip by a high-level official from China since that country's top leader Deng Xiaoping visited in 1979. The flamboyant Deng toured the country like a politician, donning a cowboy hat in Texas and taking the controls of a NASA spacecraft on a simulated flight, to reassure Americans that China's turn to the West was sincere. In contrast, the businesslike atmosphere surrounding the Zhao-Reagan exchange reflects the difficulties encountered in bilateral relations over the past five years.

Differences over trade issues and U.S. support for Taiwan have lent a more sober tone to U.S.-China relations. Like Zhao's Washington visit, Reagan's trip to China is not expected to produce any breakthroughs in bilateral relations, but should serve to underline U.S. support of China's ambitious modernization program. “In this sense,” said Scott Seligman of the National Council for U.S.-China Trade, “the trip's symbolic importance cannot be underestimated.”

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