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A Rising China Will Benefit The Us And Its Allies

867 words - 4 pages

As an American who grew up in California during the 1980s, my initial perception of modern China was primarily shaped by the standard history book narrative of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 and the first few decades of communist rule that followed. However, my views were radically altered in the summer of 1989 when dramatic media images of the student led protest movement in Tiananmen Square dominated the nightly news. For the first time, I became aware that there were many Chinese people who wanted the same basic human rights and civil liberties that Americans enjoyed. A makeshift statue created by the protestors, the 10 meter tall Goddess of Democracy, became a powerful political symbol and a rallying call for freedom and democracy that resonated deeply with many people in the West (Deneen, xv). Then, just when it seemed that the peaceful student revolution was gaining momentum, the Chinese government deployed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into Tiananmen Square and the protest movement was quickly and brutally crushed. The incident affected me deeply and made me very suspicious and distrustful of the PRC government and its future ambitions.
My suspicions were only reinforced in the 1990s when members of Congress began to denounce unfair Chinese trade practices. In 1996, a bill to renew China’s “most favored nation” status generated acrimonious debate in the US House of Representatives. “These people don't think like us,” said Joe Scarborough, a Representative from Florida. “They don't share our values. They only understand that the U.S. continues to kowtow to them.” (qtd. in Schmitt par. 18). Yet, despite the harsh rhetoric from many members of Congress, the Clinton administration continued to push for greater openness with China, arguing that engagement—not isolation—was the best way to advance America’s vital interests with China and the rest of the world (Schmitt par. 5).
However, the debate in the US about China’s unfair trade practices receded into the background as the focus turned to the impending handover of Hong Kong from the UK to the PRC. When Hong Kong returned to China on 1 July 1997, the PLA crossed the border at the stroke of midnight and then quietly retreated to their barracks. The day after the handover, the Hong Kong markets continued to function normally and without interference from Beijing. The local press continued to carry news stories that were critical of China—stories that would have been banned on the mainland—and local human rights...

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