As the world enters into a new era of international relations we find ourselves at an impasse where the nature of threats and security discourses are no longer isolated to traditional definitions, rather, the international community finds itself dealing with new threats in the form of nontraditional security issues which tests the limits of current systems and calls into question the readiness of states in their ability to implement effective strategies in dealing with these unforeseen problems(CHAPTER 5 Main Findings and Recommendations, 2008: 33 – 43). Counterterrorism, as defined by Saurabh Chaudhuri of the Global India Foundation, is one branch of nontraditional security that many of us are of aware of today as a direct result of the September 11 attacks and America’s “war on terror”. What must be understood though is that not all states ascribe to the U.S. model of counterterrorism initiatives with states such as China calling into question the applicability of such strategies when taking into consideration their propensity for spillover effects and the resulting backlash that other states have to suffer as a result (Moore, 2006: 1). It is based on this that this paper examines the sustainability of Sino – U.S. cooperation in the realm of nontraditional security issues with a specific focus on Sino – U.S. views and positions on aspects related to counterterrorism. This research paper provides a detailed account of Chinese views on nontraditional security, terrorism, counterterrorism and how China views the actions of the U.S. in relation to its own state and foreign policy objectives. This paper concludes that while there are significant differences between the two states on numerous issues the necessity of cooperation between the two should be able to facilitate a modicum of cooperation in light of the danger terrorism presents.
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Based on the work of Indian researcher Saurabh Chaudhuri, nontraditional security threats can thus be defined as “generally nonmilitary in nature, transnational in scope, neither totally domestic nor purely inter-state and are transmitted rapidly due to globalization and communication revolution” (Chaudhuri, 2011: 1). Chaudhuri goes on to state that the 6 main branches of nontraditional security are as follows: “international terrorism, trans-national organized crime, environmental security, illegal migration, energy security, and human security” (Chaudhuri, 2011: 1). Due to the rather broad nature of the concept of nontraditional security as well as inherent constraints both in time and the amount of research appropriate for this type of study this paper will focus on the issue of international terrorism and how it relates to U.S – Sino relations in the sustainability of nontraditional security cooperation. The reason behind this particular selection is related to the experiences both states have had in being victims of terrorist action yet each has advocated different approaches in dealing with the issue both domestically and internationally (Executive Summary, 2008: 1).
Based on the work of Gill and Murphy (2005) it can be seen that China advocates nonintervention in the internal affairs of states with support for regional and international institutions as mediums for interstate cooperative action in dealing with the issue of counterterrorism (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29). The U.S. on the other hand has been noted as being interventionist in its approach towards winning the “war on terror” and sees itself as the leader in the global fight against terrorism (Hanson, 2005: 23). While China has actually supported the counterterrorism efforts of the U.S. ever since the tragedy of September 11 the fact remains that the actions of the U.S. in relation to its invasion of Iraq and continued unilateral interventionist strategy has become a point of contention between both states with China criticizing the actions of the U.S. due to the potential spillover effects that may come about resulting in adverse outcomes for China (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29). Furthermore, both states have differing views regarding China’s treatment of minorities with particular emphasis on the Xinjiang region (Schluessel, 2009: 383 – 387). From the point of view of the U.S. China’s repression of minorities in the area represents violations of human rights while from China’s perspective the fact that most of the terrorist activities that have come to affect Beijing and various outlying regions was caused by separatist minority forces from Xinjiang justifies the use of suppression in order to maintain internal security (Huhua, 2010: 965 – 971).
What must also be understood is that from a historical perspective both the U.S. and China have been at odds with each other due to the inherent nature of their state and foreign policy objectives with both states often coming into direct confrontation over numerous international issues. Such a situation has actually led to mutual distrust between the two states as evidenced by their contending views on the issue of Xinjiang and the fact that China continues to be wary of U.S. led initiatives in counterterrorism due to the possibility of the U.S. steering the efforts towards its own state and foreign policy objectives. As such this paper will examine the case of China and the U.S. and will analyze to what extent Sino – U.S. cooperation on nontraditional security is sustainable in light of their differing views/ approaches in counterterrorism.
Structure of the Study
Chapter 2 will focus on China’s position on nontraditional security cooperation and will elaborate on the nature and role of China’s foreign policy in correlation with its stance on nonintervention in the internal affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, and the use of institutions as mediums for cooperation. The main source of information in this section comes from China’s 2002 position paper on nontraditional security issues which focuses on counterterrorism. By utilizing the theory of neoliberal institutionalism this section will explain why China prefers to utilize institutions as mediums for cooperation as well as will elaborate on China’s preferred security arrangements, opposition towards interference in state internal affairs as well as perceived problems in entering into cooperative agreements with states.
Chapter 3 will elaborate on China’s history with counterterrorism relating to distinct changes in its foreign policy after the 1950s, the origins of terrorism within China, China’s acknowledgement that terrorism is a regional problem and the resulting response China put into practice in order to resolve the problem of cross-regional terrorism. This chapter acts as a backdrop enabling a better understanding of how China views the origins of the problem of terrorism and how China continues to advocate cooperative responses through the use of institutions as a method of preventing terrorist threats. It is expected that this chapter should provide a generalized overview of why China views cooperative action as mutually beneficial between states.
Chapter 4 is a multipart overview of problems with Sino – U.S. cooperation in nontraditional security issues with a focus on aspects of counterterrorism. It presents numerous arguments detailing the origins of problems between the two states, why problems persist and how state and foreign policy objectives influence decisions regarding cooperative action. This chapter elaborates on the following as the main problems between the two states, namely: their differing views regarding appropriate treatment of minorities in the Xinjiang region, different methods of interstate interaction as evidenced by China’s distinctly noninterventionist stance in the internal affairs of states while the U.S. has been shown to be more interventionist in its approach, differing views regarding the effectiveness of armed intervention in counterterrorism and finally a distinct disagreement over the unilateral actions of the U.S. with China advocating multilateral cooperation through the use of institutions. This chapter also presents numerous views from both state and academic sources detailing why problems persist and what particular stance each states advocates as well as utilizes both neoliberal institutionalism and realism as a method of explaining state actions.
Chapter 5 summarizes various historical and present day circumstance that hinder Sino-U.s. cooperation. This particular sections attempts to show how such circumstance continue to cause problems between the two states however presents the idea that despite such problems future cooperative action is possible due to the interconnected markets of China and the U.S. brought about through trade relations, debt ownership and China being the second largest trading partner of the U.S.
Chapter 6 contains the final arguments, it elaborates on the necessity of cooperation between the two states and how, despite their individual differences, cooperation is a necessity in order to enact effective global strategies in the fight against terrorism.
The following analysis on the sustainability of Sino – U.S. cooperation in nontraditional security will be conducted on 3 different levels: China’s Position on Non-Traditional Security Cooperation, China’s Approach to Counterterrorism and Problems with Sino-U.S. Cooperation in Nontraditional Security Issues. Each level in the analysis required a different methodological approach in order to meet the particular characteristics of each level.
China’s Position on Non-Traditional Security Cooperation
The study of China’s position on nontraditional security cooperation was based almost entirely on the 2002 China position paper on nontraditional security issues. This particular part of the study combined both the perspectives of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Neoliberal Institutionalism in order to produce a succinct explanation of China’s position on the concept of nontraditional security cooperation. This particular section drew heavily from the neoliberal institutionalist perspective in order to explain China’s predilection towards the use of institutions. While the academic research for this section was rigorous it was not as extensive as those utilized in the proceeding sections.
China’s Approach to Counterterrorism
This particular chapter of the study drew heavily from the 2005 Gill and Murphy paper on China’s evolving approach to counterterrorism. Unlike the previous chapter this particular section utilized historical data and studies in order to explain China’s changing position since the 1950s and how it relates to the origins of terrorism in China and the state’s subsequent response to the threat. The purpose of this particular section was to act as a historical backdrop for the next chapter in order to explain the differences between the Sino – U.S. approaches in counterterrorism
Problems with Sino-U.S. Cooperation in Nontraditional Security Issues
This chapter combines both historical data as well as the data from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to explain the differences between China and the U.S. in the realm of nontraditional security cooperation in counterterrorism. This section combines both the neoliberal institutionalist perspective along with realism in order to explain the actions of both states and how they relate to problems with cooperation.
Initially this study sought to explain all aspects related to the extent of sustainability of U.S. – Sino cooperation in the realm of nontraditional security however due to the fact that the branches of nontraditional security extend to aspects related to international terrorism, trans-national organized crime, environmental security, illegal migration, energy security, and human security it was determined that exploring each and every single facet related to how they connect to Sino – U.S. cooperation would have required a much longer and far more extensive research study than what was required. As such this paper will focus only on the branch of counterterrorism and will seek to explain all arguments relating to either dissociative or cooperative relations between the U.S. and China utilizing this particular aspect of nontraditional security.
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Review of Related Literature
Introduction to Literature
This section reviews and evaluates literature and theories on the sustainability of Sino – U.S. cooperation on nontraditional security issues. The literature in this review is drawn from the following EBSCO databases: Academic Search Premier, MasterFILE Premier, Global Events, ERIC, and Professional Development Collection. Other sources of information utilized in this section are drawn from various online resources such as the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Center for Strategic International Studies as well as various news media websites. Keywords used either individually or in conjunction include nonintervention, interstate relations, nontraditional security cooperation, institutions, neo-liberal institutionalism, realism, international cooperation, unilateral, sustainability, terrorism, and counterterrorism.
China’s Position on Non-Traditional Security Cooperation
As indicated by China’s 2002 position paper on non-traditional security issues, released in light of the September 11 attack on the U.S., it is revealed that China acknowledges the threat that international terrorist activities pose on the current trend of peaceful global development and as such advocates the need for international cooperation as a means of prevention (China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2002: 1). In light of this position, China indicates that its stance is to use methods of regional/ international cooperation in the form of institutions such as the U.N. in order to create a method of cooperation that resolves non-traditional security issues while at the same time promotes mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of each state (China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2002: 1).
When examining China’s stance on non-traditional security cooperation several points must be the noted: the first is China’s emphasis on respecting sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of states, its focus on a security concept of mutual benefit, action, trust, equality and coordination and finally its focus on the use of international institutions as a medium for this form of cooperation.
Sovereignty and Non-interference
The concept of mutual non-interference is considered to be the third guiding principle of the 5 principles of co-existence in Chinese culture and one of the integral driving forces behind the development of China’s state goals and foreign policy objectives (Ranjan, 2011: 1). What must be understood is that the concept of non-interference in the affairs of other states is a practice that China has been utilizing since the 3rd century B.C. (Ranjan, 2011: 1). The early Chinese feudal states developed a regional precedent that advocated managing their own internal affairs without interfering in those of other states within region, this is a practice that has continued well into the creation of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) and has become a bedrock of China’s state objectives and foreign policy (Reed, 2011: 83). Thus when attempting to conduct any study that attempts to investigate the likelihood of any form of sustainable cooperation with China the concept of mutual non-interference should be placed at the forefront of the investigative structure so as to ensure that all ideas developed regarding China’s potential actions are set under the non-interference model of cooperation (Weaver, 1979: 1 – 3).
A cursory examination of China’s behavior over the past 20 years reveals that it has distinctly resented foreign criticism and interference regarding aspects of internal affairs (TRIFONOV, 2009: 62). This comes in the form of blocking initiatives investigating human rights abuses within the country, ignoring foreign governments questioning China’s stance over the production of illegal counterfeit goods within several of its industrial centers, dismissing questions regarding its intentional devaluation of the Yuan as well as blocking general criticisms aimed at the Chinese government itself for limiting freedoms within the country (Shuja, 2007: 62 – 63). On the other end of the spectrum it has also been noted that China’s foreign policy also reflects the concept of non-interference as shown by its stance during the Egyptian revolution that occurred during the early half of 2011 with China stating that “Egyptians should decide their fate for themselves without interference from countries such as the U.S.” (Somaliland, 2011: 1). Such a stance was also seen in criticisms aimed at Pakistan, India and conflicts within Africa.
While China is not against the concept of mutual cooperation towards a goal that benefits both parties it is distinctly against immersing itself into a relationship where outside parties can dictate what policies it should or should not follow regarding its own internal affairs (Qiang, 2008: 97). Thus when examining its stance on non-traditional security issues it comes as no surprise that it would include respect for sovereignty and internal affairs as one of the prerequisites of entering into any cooperative non-traditional security arrangement.
Security Concept of Mutual Benefit, Action, Trust, Equality and Coordination
Based on the 2002 China position paper on non-traditional security issues it is noted that China considers trans-national cooperation as being a necessity towards dealing with trans-national issues. China’s support for U.N. led actions in support of terrorism as well as fostering regional methods of cooperation in the form of the ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) are all indicative of the fact that China has chosen a path of mutual cooperation in light of the perceived threat of terrorism (Wishnick, 2006: 423). It must be noted though that the 2002 position paper expressly indicates that China perceives the main cause of non-traditional security issues (i.e. terrorism, illegal human migration, environmental problems etc.) as being the result of poverty, development gaps, social injustice and unfairness (China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2002: 1). Going along this particular train of thought China further emphasizes that it is the uneven and imbalanced gap of development between the rich North and the poor South that triggers nontraditional security issues and as such needs to be taken into account before pursuing any act of mutual cooperation (China’s Inner Struggle, 2011: 68).
What must be understood is that in the 2002 position paper China implies that one of the problems when it comes to developing cooperative relationships between states is that the difference in power between the two states often results in the more powerful state dictating the actions of the less powerful state (China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2002: 1). While it is hypocritical of China to imply this considering its actions regarding the Spratly island dispute between the Philippines, Vietnam and other South East Asian countries the fact remains that China foresees that the difference in state power as being utilized as a means of controlling other states when it comes to entering into cooperative agreements regarding non-traditional security issues (Yi-hung Chiou, 2008: 1 – 15).
In this case it can be seen that China is wary of entering into any agreement where it might be dictated into completing a particular action that complies with the foreign policy and state objectives of another state (i.e. the United States) instead of its own. Based on this, China is thus advocating the creation of non-traditional security arrangements where there is mutual benefit, action, trust, equality and coordination so as to avoid instances where the more powerful state dictates the actions of less powerful states. Such a stance is actually indicative of China’s wariness of the intentions of the U.S. regarding international security arrangements and a general mistrust towards undue interference in the internal affairs of both it and other states (Yang & Xia, 2010: 395).
International Institutions as a Medium for Cooperation
For China international institutions such as the U.N. act as adequate mediums for fostering cooperation for non-traditional security issues (China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2002: 1). Such a view is supported by the theory of Neo-liberal Institutionalism which advocates the use of institutions as facilitators of cooperative action between states. What must be understood is that from a realist and liberalist perspective cooperation between states is difficult due to various constraining factors (Fairbank, 1969: 449 – 453).
For realists cooperation between states is difficult due to the possibility of cheating and the concept of relative gains between different classes of states while from a liberalist perspective cheating does also occur however instead of relative gains what occur are collective actions problems (Public, 2011: 1). Taking the liberal view into consideration, collective action problems for interstate cooperation can be surmised into 2 distinct problem sets, namely:
- Achieving cooperation between states is relatively costly to organize, monitor and enforce (Public, 2011: 1).
- There is the possibility of “free riding” wherein certain states benefit from the cooperation but do not pay the costs of achieving cooperation (Public, 2011: 1).
From the neo-liberal institutionalist perspective creating institutions, especially qualitative multilateral ones, actually alleviates the problems connected to C.A.P (collective action problems) as well as resolves relative gains concerns (Public, 2011: 1). In the case of China, their position advocating the use of institutions is based on the neo-liberal institutionalist perspective as evidenced by the 2002 position paper on non-traditional security cooperation specifically stating that China places great importance on utilizing institutions to foster cooperation as well as advocates aspects related to “mutual” benefit, trust, equality and coordination for interstate cooperative relations (China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2002: 1).
It must be noted though that from the neoliberal perspective institutions are not limited to concepts such as the U.N. but can also be described as “a persistent and connected set of rules, formal or informal, that prescribe behavioral roles, constrain activity, and shape expectations” (IRTheory, 2011: 1). As such when it comes to interstate cooperative action between two countries (i.e. the United States and China) the use of institutions becomes a pivotal concept which determines the future of non-traditional security cooperation between the two due to China’s adherence to a distinctly neo-liberal institutionalist perspective. China’s position in this particular case involving non-traditional security issues can thus be seen as a way in which it helps to ensure that collective action problems are avoided while at the same time ensures that there is mutual benefit and equality in the cooperative relationship between the states entering into the cooperative agreement (Xia, 2005: 241 – 247).
In summary it can be seen, based on the facts presented, that China will only enter into a cooperative non-traditional security arrangement so long as it does not impinge on its sovereignty and internal affairs, contains provisions indicating that the cooperative agreement is mutually beneficial for all parties concerned and adheres to utilizing institutions as a means of ensuring cooperation and preventing CAP and problems related to relative gains. As such when examining the sustainability of Sino-U.S. cooperation on nontraditional security issues it must be done utilizing the facts presented in this chapter so as to judge whether U.S. actions versus China’s necessities are concurrent in ensuring continued cooperation.
China’s Approach to Counterterrorism
In the previous chapter it was expressly mentioned that one of the main attributes of China’s foreign policy directives was a stance of noninterference in the internal affairs of states. This was expressly indicated by Ranjan (2011: 1) in his examination of China’s history and its effect on the development of Chinese foreign policy yet what must be understood is that China has not always adhered to a policy of noninterference and in fact has had a history of interfering in the affairs of other states in order to pursue its own objectives.
What this chapter will discuss is a brief history of changes in China’s foreign policy objectives from the 1950’s onwards, how interference was justified despite noninterference being an integral part of both its state ideology and past foreign policy and how such events connect to China’s approach towards counterterrorism. It is expected that by the end of this chapter a clear picture of China’s approach towards counterterrorism will be achieved and as such will help clarify the main thrust of this paper which aims to determine the sustainability of Sino-U.S. cooperation on issues of nontraditional security (i.e. counterterrorism).
Changes from the 1950s Onwards
During the 1955 Bandung Conference China initially espoused the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” of which noninterference in the internal affairs of other states was a part of. What must be understood was that at the time China’s foreign policy was concurrent with the views of the Soviet Union in that they viewed the world as being divided into two distinct camps, namely, those of socialism and imperialism (Gill & Murphy, 2005: 21 – 22). While Mao Zedong did declare in 1949 that China “must lean either to the side of imperialism or to the side of socialism, there can be no sitting on the fence; there is no third path”, the fact is China did in fact choose a third path by 1955 in which it espoused the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” as a way in which it could balance itself on both sides of the fence by utilizing a distinctly neutral method of interstate relations (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 21 – 22).
Unfortunately, by the end of the 1950s interstate relations between the Soviet Union and China had severely deteriorated resulting in the need for China to significantly reevaluate its current state and foreign policy objectives. This resulted in the creation of a more militant Chinese foreign policy whose main objective was to form an international united front against both superpowers (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 21 – 22). In order to accomplish this China sought to export Marxist-Leninist revolutions world wide due to its belief that the newly independent developing countries around the world would play important roles in international affairs within the coming years (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 21 – 22).
Such actions resulted in China distinctly interfering in the internal affairs of other states (specifically newly developing countries) by cultivating ties with developing world governments and various insurgent groups through technical, economic and military aid in what China called “wars of national liberation” (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 21 – 22). It must be noted that from the early 1950’s to the early 1990’s China had actually provided significant military assistance to more than 29 armed liberation movements around the world which represents a significant departure from their previous policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of states. Such actions though resulted in a distinct level of animosity between China and various Third World countries as states, such as those within Africa and Indonesia, accused China of unduly interfering in their internal affairs.
By the 1970s China began a distinct reevaluation of its foreign policy objectives as a direct result of both its induction into the U.N. as well as its growing diplomatic relationships with states around the world. As a result, China’s links to terrorist activities performed by extremist groups in other countries it previously supported declined by the 1980s with the Beijing government establishing stricter export control measures and implementing internal protocols of greater compliance with international nonproliferation rules (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 21 – 22).
China as a Victim of Terrorism
Origin of Terrorism in China
One of the most proliferate misconceptions about China is the assumption that it has never been a victim of terrorist action. A cursory examination of general public opinion on the topic reveals that on average most individuals fail to connect the topic of China being a victim of terrorist action with them connecting either the U.S., the Middle East, Russia or the U.K. as being the primary hotspots for terrorist reprisals yet what must be understood is that from the early to mid 1990s China experienced several instances of terrorist activity both within the Xinjiang region as well as Beijing (Fields, n.d.: 693). The origin of China’s problem with terrorism can be connected to its history of troubled relations with minorities especially within the Xinjiang region.
From a historical perspective the Xinjiang region has always acted as a form of buffer zone between China and other states within the region such as Russia, India, Mongolia and Afghanistan (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 23 – 25). Within the past 3 decades its importance has risen due to its rich natural resources such as oil and mineral deposits as well as being a conduit between China and countries within Central Asia (Grose, 2010: 97 – 99). It must be noted though that the Xinjiang region was originally inhabited by the Uighers who practiced Islam however as a direct result of China’s Cultural Revolution their mosques were destroyed, their native languages was banned from being taught within schools and Imams (leaders within the Islamic religion) were jailed (Gill and Murphy, 2005” 23 – 25).
Tensions within the region further increased as a direct result of Han (an ethnic group native to China which represents 92% of the current population in the PRC) migration into the Xinjiang region wherein from a population base of 6 to 7 percent during the 1940s the Han population radically increased to 40 – 45 percent by the beginning of the 21st century (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 23 – 25). The end result was a domination of local political and economic institutions by the Han population which caused widespread resentment among the native Uigher. Christian Tylher in this book “Wild West China: The Taming of Xinjiang”, explains that the Chinese government “severely underestimated the resistance that the native Xinjiang population would mount against the Han culture”, while it may not have been immediately obvious at the time the political and economic dominance of the Han within the Xinjiang region as well as the actions of the Chinese government prior to migration acted as catalyst for subsequent reprisals which turned into terrorist actions.
Beginning of Violence
When examining the start of terrorist activities within China the fall of the Soviet Union by 1991 comes to mind as being one of the initial catalysts behind the start of terrorist activity. The reason behind this can be explained by the fact that as the Soviet Union collapsed the result was the establishment of numerous independent states that were originally part of the Soviet bloc as well as the return of numerous Uighurs who had fled to the Soviet Union during the Chinese Cultural Revolution who became a source of inspiration for separatism and resisting Han cultural assimilation. Furthermore, the concept of radical Islam within the young Uighur population incited vigorous anti-Han and anti-government sentiment within the local populace which culminated in terrorist activities during the early to mid -1990s (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 23 – 25).
Several notable examples of terrorism within China during this period were the 1997 bombing of 3 buses within the capital of Xinjiang which killed 9 people, the bombing of a bus in Beijing which injured 9 individuals, the bombing of several railroad lines in numerous provincial districts, the 1996 assassination of a high ranking member of the XPPCC (Xinjiang People’s Political Conservative Conference) as well as the 1995 uncovering of a stash of 4,000 sticks of dynamite, 600 guns, and 3,000 kg of explosives in Xinjiang by PRC security forces (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 23 – 25). By the mid 1990s China identified the individuals responsible for these incidents as belonging to “terrorist organizations” and as such began to see that the development of these particular groups as being linked to events that were outside of China’s borders. It was based on this that China began to see the necessity of a solution involving a multinational regional response in order to deal with terrorist threats and as such marked the beginning of changes to China’s foreign policy wherein it began to evaluate new strategies involving counterterrorism.
Regional Response to Terrorism
By 1996 China along with Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan established the “Shanghai Five”, a regional security mechanism with the aim of resolving border issues and ensuring the security of each country’s borders (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 25). This regional cooperative agreement had the effect of helping the five countries deal with the threat of terrorist activities and the spread of radical Islamic views which came about as a direct result of the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban by 1996. With the inclusion of Uzbekistan by 2001 the group became formally known as the SCO or Shanghai Cooperation Organization with all members espousing to coordinate and commit resources to combat the “three evils” namely: terrorism, extremism and separatism (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 25). To this day members of the group continue to carry out bilateral and joint military exercises in an effort to combat terrorist groups within the region which can be considered an unprecedented step in China’s history for military to military cooperation with other states within the region (Gill and Muprhy, 2005: 25).
Understanding China’s Stance on Counterterrorism Today
China’s stance on terrorist activities today can be surmised by the statement of then-Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan when he addressed the U.S. – China business council on September 21, 2001 in which he said: “September 11 shows that international terrorism has become a serious threat to world peace and stability” adding that “international cooperation is both necessary and pressing… China stands ready to enhance dialogue and cooperation” (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29). In fact various statements given by both China and the U.S. all show that there is little hesitation on the part of China to commit to cooperation in matters of counterterrorism intelligence and other similar aspects of preventing future terrorist activities.
Such a stance it seems can be derived from its own history in dealing with terrorist activities brought about by radical Islam and its foreign policy position of promoting regional cooperation to prevent terrorist activities from escalating. It must be noted that even though China supports the U.S. in various aspects of counterterrorism the fact remains that there are distinct differences between the two sides as to how the “war on terror” should be fought (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29). From the point of view of the U.S. the supposed war on terror should not be” used as an excuse to persecute minorities” while China on the other has been rather vague in its own response regarding this particular statement from the U.S. China’s response was worded as such: “we hope that anti-terrorism can have clearly defined targets… And what is more, the role of the United Nations should be brought into full play” (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29).
An examination of both statements show that from the perspective of the U.S. it is believed that China may in effect use the “war on terror” as an excuse to persecute minorities within Xinjiang due to their connection to terrorist organizations that have attacked China in the past. The response of China on the other hand is keeping with its state and foreign policy objectives of non-interference in the internal affairs of states since it shows that China does not want the U.S. dictating what it does with its own internal affairs. What must be understood is that China’s response to the U.S. is actually similar to what is mentioned in China’s 2002 position paper on nontraditional security issues in which China advocates the use of institutions as well as a policy of respecting sovereignty and noninterference in internal issues. Thus, from this exchange of statements between China and the U.S. it can be seen that both states have invariably their own ideas as to how deal with the issue of terrorism and as such is indicative of possible future problems in sustained cooperation between the two in matters of nontraditional security cooperation.
In summary it can be seen that China has a stake in entering into nontraditional cooperative agreements due to its history in dealing with terrorism within its own borders and its belief that the transnational nature of the problem brought about by cross border influences which create terrorism can only be resolved through regional and global cooperation. Based on this chapter it can be seen that similar to what is stated in the 2002 China position paper on nontraditional security issues China’s method of creating sufficient interstate relationships to counter terrorist activities has been to utilize institutions such as the SCO and the U.N. as a medium for promoting sufficient cooperative action. It must also be noted that within the chapter it is also obvious that China continues to advocate a stance of noninterference in internal affairs as noted by its response to the U.S. regarding the Xinjiang region. From this it can be seen that the future of Sino-U.S. relations in regard to nontraditional security cooperation hinges on the noninterference of the U.S. in China’s internal affairs as well as the utilization of a sufficient institution that will enable a method of mutually beneficial cooperation between the two states
Problems with Sino-U.S. Cooperation in Nontraditional Security Cooperation (Counterterrorism)
When examining Sino – U.S. cooperative actions in the realm of nontraditional security issues it must first be pointed out that from the mid to late 1990s both the recognition and response of China to the issue of terrorism was actually broadly consistent with that of the U.S. (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29). In fact, China’s support and cooperation with the U.S. immediately after the September 11 attacks was a facilitator of improving the relationships between the two states and showed potential for future cooperative action in other aspects involving nontraditional security. Unfortunately this initial stage of support and cooperative action became subsequently constrained as direct result of fundamental differences in the way both states believed counterterrorism activities should proceed (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29).
Difference in Approaches
What must be understood is that analysts from both China and the U.S. realized that despite the concurrent nature of the goal of combating terrorism both states have a fundamental difference in the way they view international action against terrorism and as such results in an increasing divide between the two countries. One clear example of this is differences in their foreign policy objectives regarding the international system (Hale, 2006: 16 – 24). As mentioned earlier one of the defining aspects of China’s foreign policy is the concept of noninterference in the internal affairs of other states, while it may be true that China in the past has attempted to interfere in the internal affairs of other states (see chapter 3: 1950’s onwards) the fact remains that due to its acceptance into the U.N. as well as its subsequent diplomatic relationships with other states China for the past 20 years or so has staunchly advocated a stance of noninterference as evidenced by its recent position involving the Middle East revolutions (HOISLAG, 2010: 641).
This particular development of China’s foreign policy can actually be connected to the theory of neoliberal institutionalism which states that institutions can be utilized as facilitators of cooperative action between states. From the perspective of China institutions act as a method of fostering cooperative action of mutual benefit and as such should be utilized as a primary medium to combat international terrorism (Bader, 2009: 5 – 13). Evidence of this particular point of view can be seen in China’s 2002 position paper on nontraditional security issues and as such is an important factor to take into consideration when examining the differing views between the U.S. and China.
The U.S. on the other hand has a foreign policy objective that is distinctly unilateral in its approach to international action, whereas China advocates the use of institutions the U.S., due to its current hegemonic nature, often acts unilaterally because it is capable of doing so (LUZYANIN, 2010: 14). What must be understood is that the actions of the U.S. in the international system fall under the realm of the theory of realism wherein states are rational unitary actors each moving towards their own national interest (Economy, 2010: 142). Realist theory specifically states that there is a general distrust of long-term cooperation or alliance, a view that the U.S. has shown time and time again (i.e. relationship with China, the Middle East, Mexico etc.) and despite regularly engaging in situations of necessary international cooperation, nation states still continue to strategize in order to maintain the states’ national advantage (as also seen by the actions of the U.S.) (Kan, 2010: 459 – 488).
Based on this it can be seen that from the perspective of international relations theory the U.S. and China have differing views on the method of their interaction with one advocating the use of institutions while the other prefers a more unilateral approach to resolving issues. In fact Gill and Murphy (2005) in their examination of U.S. – China relations in counterterrorism specifically mention that despite China’s support for the actions of the U.S. in counterterrorism China continues to appear “uncomfortable” with the direction the U.S. is pursuing in light of its action in invading Iraq (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29 – 30).
Main Points of Contention
The following is an excerpt of the speech of General Xiong Guangkai, Deputy Chief of the General Staff and head of defense intelligence in which he address issues relating to counterterrorism as well as China’s stance on the matter:
“First, double standards should be practiced in dealing with terrorism; second, the scope of fighting terrorism should not be broadened infinitely; third, fighting terrorism should not exacerbate national conflicts, religious hatred and civilization clashes; fourth, counterterrorism should treat both the cause and symptoms of the problem; fifth, an international mechanism for fighting terrorism must be established as quickly as possible and give full play to the leading role of the UN and the Security Council in fighting terrorism; sixth, no country in the world can undertake the task of fighting international terrorism all by itself” – Xiong Guangkai (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29).
The excerpt of Guangkai regarding China’s stance on counterterrorism can be interpreted into 4 distinct views, namely:
- That China wants to portray the activities of separatists from Xinjiang as constituting terrorist actions thus justifying the human rights abuses it conducts in the area
- That it views the U.S. intervention in the Middle East as fueling tensions in the area thus contributing to the problem of global terrorism
- That the policy of armed intervention utilized by the U.S. does not resolve the issue of terrorism since it does not contend with the underlying causes of the problem which China connects to poverty, racial conflict and the widening gap between the rich and the poor
- Finally, China considers that the unilateral actions of the U.S. cannot reasonably resolve the problem since it requires a concerted global effort through the use of international institutions as a medium for interstate cooperation to effectively resolve the issue of terrorism.
These interpretations of the excerpt are based upon the various topics covered in the second and third chapter of this paper which elaborate on China’s views regarding solutions to nontraditional security issues, its foreign policy objective of nonintervention in the internal affairs of states and its focus on the neoliberal institutionalist perspective of utilizing institutions as a medium for cooperative action. As such the elaborated interpretations indicated above can actually be considered the main points of contention between China and the U.S. regarding nontraditional security cooperation In counterterrorism and as such should be the basis for examining the possibility for sustained cooperation in the future.
China’s View on U.S. Counterterrorism Initiatives
In 2004 China released a report detailing its views regarding global counterterrorism initiatives and the actions of the U.S. up till that point in time. Overall, the report was highly critical of the actions of the U.S. and expressed China’s disappointment over the actions of the United States in its counterterrorism endeavors (Kan, 2010: 459 – 488). First off, the report acknowledged the efforts of the U.S. government in its efforts in the “war on terror” however it states that the U.S. lead war in Iraq and the subsequent military occupation that occurred not only incited a distinct split in the international community regarding counterterrorism endeavors but the unilateral invasion of Iraq incited numerous individuals from various states within the Middle East and abroad to develop distinct anti-American idealisms which not only negatively impacted America’s global image but adversely affected its allies as evidenced by numerous global bombings around the world (such as the London Transit Bombings) which were directed at states that allied itself with the U.S (Kan, 2010: 459 – 488).
Based on the 2002 position paper and the stance stated by Guangkai it can be assumed that the divisiveness created by the U.S. as a direct result of its unilateral actions in counterterrorism initiatives is one of the main obstacles in sustained Sino – U.S. cooperation in nontraditional security issues due to China’s foreign policy objectives which lean more towards cooperative collective action utilizing institutions (Kan, 2010: 459 – 488). What must be understood is that the 2004 China Global Counterterrorism report shows how the Beijing government is directly against continued U.S. unilateral action due to the possibility of “proliferate estrangements between various countries” in developing a cooperative agreement in counterterrorism initiatives (Kan, 2010: 459 – 488).
In this particular case it can be seen that China is under the belief that what is needed is not divisiveness in combating terrorist threats with various state blocs creating their own means of combating terrorism but rather a regional and global concerted effort is needed in order to properly deal with the threat that terrorism presents (Kan, 2009: 1 – 26). Unfortunately, if the U.S. continues along the path that China perceives that it might, such an interstate cooperative agreement may not come to pass due to the growing divisiveness between those supporting America’s actions and those thoroughly against it due its inherent aggressiveness and the potential spill over effect (Kan, 2009: 1 – 26).
Spill Over Effect
Before proceeding with the rest of this section the concept of the spill over effect must be elaborated on since it is one of the criticisms China has directed against the U.S. in light of its unilateral actions in counterterrorism. The spill over effect is a concept which recognizes that certain actions completed may have unintended outcomes which “spill over” resulting in political, economic or sociological consequences. In this particular case it can be seen that the unintended consequences of the unilateral actions of the U.S. in counterterrorism have actually resulted in adverse global consequences. One of these adverse consequences has actually been the spread of anti-American sentiment and of radical Islam in certain quarters of the Middle East.
What must be understood is that China from its history in dealing with separatists in the Xinjiang region has taken note of the fact that one of the elements of the development of terrorism within national borders has been the spread of ideological beliefs coming from external sources. In the case of China it was the collapse of the Soviet Union and the return of several Uighurs bringing with them the ideals of radical Islam and separatism that initially started the terrorist activities that spread from Xinjiang into other parts of China. Coming from this particular perspective it can be seen that China views America’s action in invading Iraq and the development of anti-U.S. sentiment within the Middle East as being similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union in that it has the potential for promoting concepts related to radical Islam resulting in the proliferation of terrorist activities on a global scale. There have already been several actions related to this seen in the London bombings, several attacks in Europe and in South East Asia all of which have been shown to be related to radical Islam.
For China the continued unilateral actions of America in counterterrorism is actually counterproductive in that it has caused a spill over effect where other countries have been affected as a result. Not only that, continued U.S. interference in the internal affairs of states such as its actions in aiding uprisings in the Middle East are considered by China as creating undue tension which may further escalate subsequent spillovers which could affect China. What must be understood is that unlike the U.S. China actually shares borders with Middle Eastern countries such as Afghanistan. It is due to this that spread of terrorist ideologies are that much more worrisome since China has already had a history of having to deal with minority populations that have been affected by ideologies that have caused them to turn towards terrorism. Since tensions in Xinjiang have not abated in the least within the past 20 years as well as the treatment of minorities within China hasn’t changed as much this shows how China is that much more vulnerable and how it cannot support continued American unilateral action should it cause adverse spill over effects.
China’s View on the Root Causes of Terrorism
China’s 2004 perspective report on counterterrorism suggests that the current methods utilized by the U.S. in counterterrorism are not only inefficient but they fail to actually address the root cause of terrorism (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29). Based on its own experience with terrorism China argues that eliminating terrorism does not necessarily mean the utilization of military force but rather what is needed is to “address the social and economic ills and injustices that plague the developing world” (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29). What must be understood is the fact that China acknowledges that the plight of Uigher minorities in the Xinjiang region as being the main cause behind the subsequent acts of terrorism that have occurred in several regions within China.
Unfortunately, in this particular case, state interests take precedent over minority concerns and as such though China knows the cause of the problem the fact remains that it cannot address it due to the importance of the Xinjiang region as a resource area and buffer zone, the need to appease the Han majority and the fact that its state objectives are thoroughly against the concept of separatism (Kurlantzick, 2003: 432). Taking this into consideration, it can be seen that China compares the situation in the Middle East to that of the Xinjiang region and as such knows that military force alone is not sufficient in dealing with the root causes of terrorism within the region. As such it views the actions of the U.S. as being similar to its own violent actions in the Xinjiang region and as such knows that by applying military force as a primary method of eliminating terrorism this will not eliminate it but rather will incite more terrorist activities. This particular view is supported by the words of China in the 2004 counterterrorism report which specifically states: “it is impossible to succeed by relying on single military means… using force to invade a sovereign country can only add to national hatreds and trigger off many more terrorist violence” (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29).
This particular statement expresses two distinct viewpoints, namely: China’s foreign policy of noninterference in the internal affairs of states and its own experiences in Xinjiang which have proven the faults in utilizing a militaristic approach in resolving terrorist activities. Evidence in support of China’s claim can be ascertained from the preceding section on the spill over effect within this chapter as well as subsequent cases of international terrorism within Europe and South East Asia which have been shown to be directly connected to the spread of terrorist ideals brought about by America’s unilateral actions.
U.S. – China Conflict over the Treatment of Minorities
Aside from their inherent differences on how they view global counterterrorism measures should be put into practice, the U.S. and China continue to differ on how China chooses to treat the issue of domestic terrorism and as such this continues to be a point of contention between the two states which hampers cooperative action between them in the realm of counterterrorism. What must be understood is that in the U.S. there continues to be strong political support for the legitimate political expression of minorities such as the Uighurs and the TIbetans (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 22) (Schluessel, 2009: 383 – 387). The U.S. does not acknowledge China’s stance on the treatment of such minorities and in fact fails to categorize the terrorist attacks on various areas within China as being distinctly terrorist in nature instead choosing to categorize it as reactions to the suppression of the Chinese government over the basic human rights of such groups (Clarke, 2010: 213 – 218).
For China, national stability is one of its most important state goals and as such the Beijing government takes a very narrow view over what kind of “political expression” can be expressed or not due to the inherent destabilizing nature of idealism and expression (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29 – 30). It is based on this point of view that China often violently cracks down on groups of individuals expressing ideologies that are not within the best interest of the Beijing government (Clarke, 2010: 542). What must be understood is that China often labels groups with adverse ideologies and ideas related to separatism as being “terrorist” in nature and as such justifies their human rights abuses within Tibet, Xinjiang and other regions as being part of its own internal counterterrorism efforts (Davis, 2008: 15 – 21).
It must be noted that various observers noting China’s participation in the global effort on counterterrorism often cite that China is using cooperative counterterrorism as an excuse to continue to carry out human rights abuses under the guide of counterterrorism (Barfield, 2008: 286 – 288). While it may be true that China is guilty of several human rights abuses the fact remains that it has been a victim of terrorism and as such due to the inherent nature of states to seek internal stability it can be justified that China’s efforts in suppressing the expression of adverse ideologies by minorities is in a way a form of ensuring the continued existence of the Chinese state (Howell, 2011: 200 – 210)
China and the use of Institutions as Mediums for Cooperation
Towards the end of China’s 2004 report on global counterterrorism it was expressly mentioned that China’s position on cooperative counterterrorism initiatives was one that was actually against the notion of a single state being placed into a leadership position in the fight against terrorism. It is in the opinion of China that leadership for this particular venture should rest firmly in the hands of the U.N., this is in accordance with its distinctly neo-liberal institutionalist stance and its history of utilizing institutions in various cooperative interstate ventures such as the SOC. What must be understood is that one of the reasons China advocates the use of institutions in nontraditional security issues such as counterterrorism is due to the potential for a state to hijack cooperative initiatives in order to fulfill its own state and foreign policy objectives.
This particular notion is actually in direct relation to the issue of the Xinjiang region and the differing opinions between the U.S. and China regarding the rights of minority populations. China in this particular case is wary of allowing the U.S. to gain a leadership role in global counterterrorism since this would in effect give the U.S. the ability to dictate whether a particular group can be classified as being a terrorist organization or not. Since the U.S. has already made it clear that it supports the rights of minority populations within the Xinjiang region and considers their actions as a form of “freedom fighting” this in effect makes China wary of granting the U.S. any form of power over dictating counterterrorism initiatives since it likely that the U.S. may declare that the minorities in Xinjiang are not a terrorist organization and as such should not be suppressed by the Chinese government utilizing military force.
This would in effect turn the international population against China’s actions in the region which may result in the region ceding from China’s control due to international pressure. As a result this may result in subsequent minority uprisings in other parts of the state which would weaken China internally. Such a view is actually reflected in China’s 2002 paper on nontraditional security issues which expressly states that one of the important factors in nontraditional security cooperation is respect for sovereignty and noninterference in the internal affairs of states.
From the perspective of China, the history of America’s subsequent intervention in the internal affairs of other states makes it more than likely that should the U.S. be given leadership of any international cooperative action against terrorist activities it is likely that it would pursue a course of action that would be detrimental towards China’s own internal affairs. Such a view is based on a history of antagonistic relations between the two states and as such it is unlikely that China would ever support a U.S. bid for a leadership role in the fight against terrorism. It is based on this view that China perceives that the best way to proceed is not to accord a leadership role to a single nation but rather use an institution (the U.N.) as a means of cooperation and coordination.
Through the use of institutions this prevents a single country from steering matters towards their own state and foreign policy goals and the fact that states have primacy over institutions means that institutions have to respect the sovereignty and internal affairs of states lest the state withdraw from the institution. In this regard, China advocates the transformation of the UN counterterrorism commission into a counterterrorism functionary agency in order to start a global initiative against counterterrorism with no single nation dictating the course of action to be pursued (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 29).
Current U.S. – China Relations (Trade and Outsourcing)
The end of the 20th century (1990 – 2000) is a significant period to take into account in Sino – U.S. history since this period represents the start of an era of growth and development for both the U.S. and China due in part to the outsourcing relationship that both states enjoy (Wang, 2004: 1). As noted by the recent news of China becoming the world’s second largest economy, the outsourcing industry has greatly improved the Chinese economy within the past 2 decades resulting in not only the rapid development and expansion of various urban centers but the creation of an increasingly prevalent Chinese upper class (China’s Economy, 2010: 4).
All of this is due to U.S. companies outsourcing their production centers to various areas in China due to the inherently cheaper labor and cost of manufacturing which enables companies to attain higher profits while at the same provide consumers with cheaper products (Mason, 2005: 104-105). In this particular case what must be taken into account is the fact that China is the destination for a large percentage of U.S outsourcing. A lot of U.S. based companies have their manufacturing facilities in China and as such any form of conflict between the U.S and China could only lead to detrimental effects for U.S. consumers (Mason, 2005: 104-105). Right now the U.S. is undergoing a recession with consumer spending at an all time low. If any form of conflict should arise this will rapidly increase prices for various consumer goods within the U.S. which would devastate the American economy. Based on the rational model of foreign policy creation which says that states are rational actors it can be assumed that the U.S. would follow a rational course of action in ensuring that in its relationship with China it does not cause problems which would adversely affect its own economy. Instead it would pursue a route that would encourage better relations between the two. Not only that China possesses a large percentage of U.S. foreign debt and as such the U.S. at times relies on China to buy its debt in order to straighten out its budget.
Thus when examining the extent of sustainability of Sino-U.S. cooperation in terms of nontraditional security one avenue of examination is to look at the extent of debt buying reliance and economic relationship to determine whether cooperation is sustainable or not from the perspective of a mutually beneficial relationship between both states since not only does the U.S. rely on China but China relies on the U.S. as a market for its goods which explains why China continues to buy American debt so as to ensure the flow of goods and services (WADHWA, 2008:72). Based on this it would be for the best interest of both parties to ensure smooth avenues of cooperation and sustainability of their current relationship.
Taking such a method of examination into consideration it must be noted that China’s 2002 position paper, 2004 counterterrorism paper as well as statements criticizing the unilateral actions of the U.S. intentionally seem to avoid any correlational topics regarding the rather strange economic relationship both states have at the present. This might be due to the fact that while China is against the unilateral actions of the U.S. it does not want to adversely affect its relationship with this particular state due to its dependence on the U.S. as a market for its goods. One fact that should be stated is that China is the single largest owner of U.S. based debt. What must be understand is that China is dependent on the U.S. as a market for its goods while the U.S. is dependent on China as a platform for cheap manufacturing. If China doesn’t buy U.S. debt then local demand for products within the U.S. would go down affecting China’s market oriented economy that is dependent on high U.S. demand. The non-traditional cooperation in this case is thus the U.S. depending on China to purchase its debt while China depends on the U.S. as a market for its goods. This encourages a sustainable degree of cooperation between the two in terms of economic survival.
On the other hand you have to take into account the fact that China’s purchase of U.S. treasury bills is dependent on their inherent valuation. With the recent problems the U.S. government has had in raising the debt ceiling and the reduction in U.S. treasury valuation this calls into question the stability and value of U.S. based debt. Certain studies have also mentioned that in the future it is likely that China may in fact move away from purchasing U.S. debt and concentrate its resources on other investments. While at the present the economic partnership between the two states is conducive towards a sustained nontraditional security arrangement it must still be questioned whether the benefits of their mutual economic dependence can actually translate into better relations in the field of counterterrorism.
As mentioned earlier China is first and foremost against the act of intervention in the internal affairs of states and is wary of the U.S. assuming any leadership role in fight against terrorism due to the potential for the U.S. to steer it towards its own foreign policy and state agendas. It must also be noted that economic partnerships are different from nontraditional security partnerships and as such success in one form of partnership should not be immediately confused as translating into success in another form of partnership. In the case of the economic relations between China and the U.S. it was obvious from the onset that the outsourcing industry would benefit both parties however in the case of counterterrorism and the view of the U.S. regarding the treatment of minorities in the Xinjiang region it is hard to see an effective means of mutual benefit when there is conflict from the onset.
While it may be true that both parties will be able to derive a certain degree of benefit from mutual cooperation in counterterrorism the fact remains that with the differing stances of both states regarding what an effective method of counterterrorism should be composed of it is likely that from a foreign policy standpoint their cooperative economic relationship will play a large factor in bringing about sustainability in nontraditional security issues focusing on the issue of counterterrorism.
In summary it can be seen that the problems between the U.S. and China in developing a cooperative relationship in nontraditional security issues with regard to the topic of counterterrorism can be summated into 4 distinct issues, namely: their differing views regarding appropriate treatment of minorities in the Xinjiang region, different methods of interstate interaction as evidenced by China’s distinctly noninterventionist stance in the internal affairs of states while the U.S. has been shown to be more interventionist in its approach, differing views regarding the effectiveness of armed intervention in counterterrorism and finally a distinct disagreement over the unilateral actions of the U.S. with China advocating multilateral cooperation through the use of institutions.
Based on this it can be seen that not only is the possibility of cooperation between the two plagued by historic differences but also by their own inherently different approaches towards dealing with concept of terrorism. It can be seen in this chapter that while China has supported U.S. actions in the past it is obvious that America’s distinctly unilateral stance on counterterrorism through the use of armed intervention as well as its views regarding minority rights in the Xinjiang region is the main cause of divergence between any future cooperative action. From the point of view of China, America should not gain a primary leadership role in any global counterterrorism initiative due to its militaristic interventionist style which in China’s opinion causes spill over effects which rapidly cause terrorist ideals to spread on a global scale. Furthermore, by giving America a leadership role this in effect gives it ability to steer international counterterrorism efforts towards it own state and foreign policy objectives which could undermine China’s position in the Xinjiang region due to the possibility of America unilaterally declaring the actions of minorities within the region as constituting a form of freedom fighting from a repressive Chinese regime.
It is due to this that in its 2002 nontraditional security paper as well as its 2004 counterterrorism report China continues to advocate the use of institutions such as the U.N. as a method of international cooperative action. This would prevent any state from unilaterally steering the international fight against terrorism towards its own goals and objectives. Overall, this chapter highlights the problems between nontraditional cooperative action between China and the U.S. in the realm of counterterrorism and shows how cooperative action between the two is difficult at best. It must be noted though that this chapter does not outright state that cooperation is not possible but rather indicates how numerous contending views and opinions by both states make cooperative actions difficult to effectively achieve.
Sustainability of Cooperation: Taking into Account Historical and Present Day International Issues in Sino – U.S Cooperation
While the previous chapters have explored the foreign policy objectives of both China and the U.S. and how this relates to their cooperation in counterterrorism in the field of nontraditional security, this chapter will explore the historic and present day circumstance that have affected the relationships of both states and how it affects the potential sustainability of cooperation between the two at the present. It is expected that this chapter should provide sufficient insights as to how the actions of either state over the past 30 years have shaped and molded interstate relations and should be able to justify the concluding arguments of this study regarding the sustainability of cooperation between China and the U.S.
U.S. – Sino Relations and the case of Taiwan
One of the greatest points of contention in U.S.-Sino relations has been America’s continued support for the Taiwanese government. Based on examinations of U.S. foreign policy such as those by Dumbaugh (2009), it can be seen that while the U.S. does in fact acknowledge the assertion of the Beijing government that Taiwan is a part of China the U.S. has as of late neglected to indicate whether it agrees with the assertion of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) or not (Dumbaugh, 2009: 1 – 10). This is an important factor to take note of since it creates an open question as to whether or not Taiwan would gain considerable U.S. military support should the PRC ever decide to use military means to assert a greater means of control over what they consider a “wayward” province (U.S.-TAIWAN RELATIONS, 2008: 9 -11). Over the past 20 years the U.S. has continued to ship military armaments to Taiwan as justified by the “Six Assurances” guideline which is part of America’s foreign policy objectives in dealing with Taiwan (U.S.-TAIWAN RELATIONS, 2008: 9 -11). This particular act is viewed as China as a direct threat towards its stance on Taiwan and an affront to China’s belief that noninterference in the internal affairs of states should be considered a priority by other states.
Further compounding this situation is the fact that America’s history of unilateral military interference in international affairs is a definite cause of concern for China. As ( ) explains that current situation involving China and Taiwan cannot continue indefinitely with the possibility of Taiwan either willfully integrating itself into the PRC or declaring independence at which point it is likely that China will attack Taiwan as it has claimed it will do so should such a declaration ever take place. It has already been noted by studies such as those by Friedberg (2000 ) that already public sentiment towards declaring independence has been rising within Taiwan and as such this raises the question of what will happen should China and Taiwan enter into military conflict (Friedberg, 2000: 26). The recent actions of the U.S. in selling 6.4 billion dollars worth of military hardware to Taiwan in 2010 has further aggravated relations between the two states with China warning of adverse consequences in relation to international or regional cooperation due to the sale which China views as a form of indirect support for Taiwan’s stance on independence.
Studies such as those by Yu (2002) indicates that what worries the PRC the most is the fact that should Taiwan declare independence and the U.S. intervenes it would be likely that the PRC would back down from a prolonged conflict due to the greater military might of the U.S. thus damaging national pride and its regional position (Yu, 2002:222). In fact it has already been noted by studies such as those by Waldron(2004 ) that China’s continued assertion of regional influence hinges on the fact that the U.S. does not directly intervene in Sino actions within the South and South East Asian region (Waldron, 2004: 60 – 62). With states in the region such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and various others counting on U.S. support for preventing China’s continued expansion of influence in the region it can be seen that the issue of American military support for Taiwan should it declare independence would be a make or break situation for China resulting in either greater regional influence or a decline in China’s ability to assert predominance within the Asian region.
U.S.-Sino Relations: Human Rights Abuses
One of the more adverse instances of Sino – U.S. relations has been continued criticisms aimed by the U.S. at China for various human rights abuses that have occurred within the country within the past 30 years (Tatchell, 2008: 30). This ranges from the suppression of new political thought, denying the freedom of speech, the suppression of minority rights as well as various other human rights abuses in the form of massacres in Xinjiang and the infamous Tiananmen Square incident. Tatchell (2008) expresses the view that the inherent ideology of the U.S., coupled with the idea that it is “the leader of the free world” along with its predilection to export the “American model of democracy and governance” to other nations results in a distinctly negative outlook towards China and its limitation of freedoms due the value the U.S. places on individual human rights (Tatchell, 2008: 30). From the point of view of China limiting individual rights in favor of group rights is a fundamental aspect of its state objectives due to its belief that varying political ideologies and population groups would result in the dissolution of the Chinese state (Lum & Fischer, 2008: 12 – 25). Based on this particular outlook, while it may be true that China is moving towards bringing its internal affairs pertaining to human rights to conform more with international norms the fact remains that so long as the Chinese government considers adverse political expression, nongovernment approved news and minority groups potential destabilizing elements to the current Chinese state it is unlikely that the U.S. and China will see eye to eye on the topic of human rights.
U.S.-Sino Relations: the case of North Korea
China’s continued association with North Korea continues to be a point of contention between Beijing and Washington. For China its historic and political relationship between North Korea, especially when taking into account the Korean War, is the basis for its continued support for the rogue state. (Pye, n.d.: 185-188) On the other hand, as seen in the studies of Waldron (2004 ), which examined U.S. strategies in dealing with North Korea, China’s continued help and assistance towards the Pyongyang government actually prevents the strategy of the U.S. in isolating North Korea from any and all possible international allies (Waldron, 2004: 27-32).
What must be understood is that from the point of view of the U.S., the current attitude of North Korea in terms of its continued attempts at nuclear missile technology especially its rather volatile relationship with South Korea necessitates the need to isolate the North from any and all international relationship so as to better control the options the state has. China’s continued assistance undermines U.S. efforts resulting in a continuing degree of bickering between both states regarding (Waldron, 2004: 27-32). From the point of view of Shuja (2005) North Korea acts as a method of concentrating the view of the U.S. away from China itself and as such it is unlikely that China will discontinue assistance given to the North (Shuja, 2005:327 – 330). It is due to this that relations between China and the U.S. continue to remain strained at best and as such affects the possibility of cooperation in various international endeavors (Pye, n.d.: 185-188).
U.S. – Sino Relations: Debt and Trade Relations
While this study has already tackled the topic of economic relations between China and the U.S. it was necessary to include a small section in this chapter due to the impact and influence this particular topic has in determining future cooperative action between the two countries. At the present China is the largest holder of U.S. debt at roughly $2.2 trillion dollars, combined with the fact that China is the second largest trading partner with the U.S. and the fact that globalization has considerably integrated the markets of both countries this has brought about a situation wherein the greatest avenue of cooperation between the two states is in the realm of economic interdependence.
Morrison (2008) states that due to the increasing economic interdependence of both states it is likely that cooperative action in other matters is sure to follow, this is based on the fact that other countries such as those within Europe and Asia that have similarly had interdependent economies gradually cooperated in other aspects related to security, trade, tourism and other forms of international relations (Morrison, 2008:8 -25). This particular viewpoint is supported by the previous study of Morrison in 2007 which stated that economic relations in the present globalized era of international relations is increasingly becoming the catalyst for positive interstate cooperative action (Morrison, 2007:1 -6). In fact it can even be said that economic interdependence actually discourages states from negative interactions due to the potential impact this would have on their own economies. In essence due to the nature of today’s interconnected markets positive interactions between states are seen as the best route to follow by a state that wants stability in its local economy and as such this has actually been considered by studies such as Morrison (2007) and Wang (2004) as a path towards international peace and cooperation.
Based on the presented data in this chapter it can be seen that are numerous complications in creating a cooperative relationship between China and the U.S. ranging from the stance of both states regarding Taiwan and North Korea to the perceived human rights abuses that are occurring in China. From the standpoint of this study such problems can be seen as being too wide a rift enable cooperative action between the two states in the realm of nontraditional security yet what must be taken into account is the fact that the economic interdependence of both states can actually act as a sufficient facilitator of cooperation.
While it may be true that Sino-U.S. relations are characterized by a certain degree of divisiveness on numerous issues the fact remains that both countries are interconnected in aspects related to trade and commerce and as such this connection can actually be considered a stepping stone towards greater cooperative behavior. Both countries have an interest in promoting positive relations between themselves for the sake of economic stability and as such this particular action has the potential to spillover into other aspects such as nontraditional security cooperation. Taking into consideration the topic of counterterrorism it can be seen that both states have a mutually defined interest in ensuring that terrorist activities don’t disrupt their economic relationship and as such it can be predicted that so long as both countries continue to be economically interconnected the likelihood of increased cooperative action in counterterrorism operations is possible.
When examining the future of Sino – U.S. relations Gill and Murphy (2005) indicate that the general outlook on joint cooperation between the U.S. and China on nontraditional security issues is actually quite promising. Such a view is based on their belief that despite the inherent differences of both states the necessity of cooperation in dealing with the threat of terrorism becomes a common ground in which the core interest of national security becomes a facilitator of cooperative action. It is in the opinion of this study though that while Gill and Murphy (2005) do make a valid point regarding the possibility of cooperation for Sino – U.S. relations in the realm of counterterrorism there are several factors that if remained unsolved will prevent any beneficial cooperative relationship from coming to pass.
First and foremost is the issue of the use of institutions as mediums for cooperation, it has been presented by this research study that China considers that use of institutions as being of paramount importance in the fight against terrorism due to their ability to foster cooperative action and to prevent states from hijacking a cause towards their own state and foreign policy objectives. As such future Sino – U.S. relations will depend on America’s will to relinquish its unilateral role in fighting global terrorism and in effect become part of a cooperative agreement through which the U.N. acts as a leader in determining threats and formulating strategies to counter them.
The necessity of this particular aspect of future Sino – U.S. relations is important due to the level of distrust in the Sino – U.S. dynamic wherein China has doubts over the ability of the U.S. to remain impartial in the fight against terrorism in light of U.S. opinions focusing on supposed human rights violations in the Xinjiang region. Not only that, America’s unilateral actions in the fight against terrorism have been noted by China as causing spillover effects which actually promote anti-U.S. sentiment and even incites the spread of terrorist ideals. Due to China’s stance of nonintervention in the internal affairs of states the continued interventions by the U.S. in various state internal affairs not only represents a strategy that goes directly against China’s foreign policy objectives but actually presents itself as a threat to China’s own internal affairs due to continued U.S. criticisms over China’s abuses against minority populations.
While it may be true that China has become, in the words of Gill and Murphy (2005) “a more prominent and proactive player in the international scene” with the U.S. realizing the necessity of being “candid, cooperative and constructive” the fact remains that the fundamental differences between the foreign policy and state objectives between the two acts as barrier towards an effective cooperative agreement in the case of nontraditional security issues (Gill and Murphy, 2005: 30). Based on this, while it may be likely for both states to enter into an effective cooperative agreement in the future it will not be possible so long as the issues mentioned in this section are not properly addressed and an effective resolution established.
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