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Time for Obama to rethink Washington's mild-mannered stance toward China

Before 9/11, the Bush administration was beginning to take a stronger stance against China on Taiwan. But after 9/11, Washington resumed a conciliatory relationship that has colored – for the worse – US-China relations.

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One critical point overlooked in the recent 9/11 commentary is the shift in the US-China relationship that was emerging in 2001 until it was aborted by the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The Bush administration was in the process of asserting a stronger deterrent stance against potential Chinese aggression directed at democratic Taiwan. But after 9/11, Washington hurried to count China among its allies in the "war on terror." The administration reverted to the traditional conciliatory approach to China as a quasi “strategic partner” and “responsible stakeholder.” That policy, largely continued by the Obama administration, has colored Sino-US relations for the worse ever since – on Taiwan, human rights, trade practices, currency manipulation, and other issues.

As the United States begins the next post-9/11 decade and Beijing brandishes what Henry Kissinger now calls its “triumphalist” assertiveness, Washington will have to rethink that relationship.

The year 2001 began with the inauguration of President George W. Bush who, like all presidents since Nixon, pledged a reset of America’s relations with the Chinese Communist regime.


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