International Relations in an Age of Volatility
Chapter 1: Rocky rise: US–China relations in the post-Cold War era
In any work of political analysis, the scholar faces many competing topics that vie for attention. There is, therefore, a need to select and then assess what is critical as opposed to important; and what is important as opposed to what is tangential. The primary purpose of this chapter is to identify and evaluate the trajectory of Sino–US relations since the watershed year of 1989, from the George H.W. Bush administration through to the Obama administration. It is the contention of this book that at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Sino–American relationship is the single most important bilateral relationship in their respective foreign policies, and arguably the most important bilateral relationship in world politics. Thus, all the post- Cold War era US Presidents from George H.W. Bush through to Obama have emphasized the centrality of Sino–US relations as a long-term issue in US foreign policy, even if immediate exigencies may, at times, have compelled a focus on other issues. For their part, Chinese leaders have consistently viewed the relationship with the US as the single most important in their long-term considerations.
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