Diplomacy: Getting China Wrong

In keeping with tradition, the White House and Congress both overestimate their influence on Beijing

While Soviet specialists tend to abhor the U.S.S.R., China scholars usually love China. George Bush's assignment as head of the U.S. mission in Beijing during the 1970s was diplomatic rather than scholarly, but it had the same seductive effect on him. Even now he seems in awe of the Chinese society that he lived in for 14 months. When formulating U.S. policy toward Beijing, he relies entirely on the China expert he respects the most: himself.

Despite the rumble of growing congressional protest, Bush went ahead and renewed China's most-favored-nation trading status again this year. As he pointed out last week,...

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