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Obama's China Policy: Neither Strategic Nor Reassuring

Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009

President Barack Obama failed to wring any concessions from China in his maiden voyage to Beijing last week. But the disappointing visit is only a symptom of the Obama administration's dysfunctional and poorly conceived China policy, which, though well-intentioned, threatens to undermine U.S. objectives and wreck its global image.

Dubbed "strategic reassurance," the policy envisions a tacit bargain whereby the United States mollifies Chinese fears of containment, while Beijing assuages U.S. concerns about its global intentions and shoulders more international responsibilities. But so far, the policy has confounded more than clarified. Some China watchers wonder where Obama will strike the balance between soothing Chinese-defined headaches, like arms sales to Taiwan, and addressing American concerns, such as China's lack of transparency about its blistering military modernization and global ambitions. Indeed, administration officials themselves seem divided as to where the focus lies. ...

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