Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy
Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush all entered the White House in the wake of presidential campaigns replete with promises to be "tougher" on China—only to embrace a more pragmatic approach once the realities of the relationship became apparent. Today, rapid changes to the global economy, China's rise, offshoring of U.S. jobs, and overall economic weakness combine to give unique momentum to the case that the next president should also take a "tougher" stance.
A report from the Center for American Progress argues that though we have many serious policy differences with China—on human rights, currency, and Sudan, to name a few—the urgency of our shared challenges, most particularly on the need for dramatic reductions in global carbon emissions, does not allow time for posturing that ultimately fails to deliver. The report, written in the form of a memorandum to the president elect, thus suggests that the next administration adopt a clear-eyed, practical approach called "risk management" that makes steady progress in advancing American interests and at the same time recognizes China's growing importance to global problem-solving. Without a serious commitment by the United States and China, we will not be able to avoid the most dire consequences of climate change.