16 February 2015

Efforts to Improve China’s Love-Hate Relationship With U.S. Yet to Meet Great Expectations

Even the mere perception that the U.S. National Security Advisor is insufficiently focused on, engaged with, or traveling to China and the rest of Asia is extremely damaging and requires immediate correction. Thank goodness, at least, for Evan Medeiros and Ryan Hass!

Kristine Kwok, Chief Asia Correspondent, “Efforts to Improve China’s Love-Hate Relationship With U.S. Yet to Meet Great Expectations,” South China Morning Post, 12 February 2015.

…the Obama administration’s lack of high-level interest in China and Xi’s more opaque than ever decision-making process will pose more challenges. …managing – or the lack thereof – the intricate ties between China and the United States has been a hit-and-miss process as the world’s two biggest powers struggle to carve out the right approach to engage with each other. …

Experts said a lack of high-level interest in China in the current Obama administration and poor coordination among the government bureaucracies handling the ever expanding bilateral ties were to blame. To further complicate things, the more opaque than ever decision-making process under Xi has made direct communications even more of a challenge.

Three years into his signature policy of reengaging with Asia in response to a rising China, Obama’s administration now faces a dearth of China experts in his second term.… 

At the NSC’s China desk, Medeiros [is] assisted by Ryan Hass, a former political officer at the US embassy in Beijing….

However, the real issue, said Bonnie Glaser… in the US, was a lack of high-level officials that were willing to engage with China. “What you need is a national security adviser who is willing to make time to engage with China and Asia, and to travel to the region,” she said.

“I think Tom [Donilon, Rice’s predecessor] did a good job. He wasn’t a China hand, but he stepped up and travelled to the region. That was assuring to countries in the region. They want somebody at the high level, who has access to the president, and who they know is paying attention to Asia.” …

For an argument that the U.S. should not attempt to operationalize China’s current bilateral policy formulation because it is not constructive, equitable, or realistic–and should instead pursue a responsible reset for U.S.-China relations–see Andrew S. Erickson and Adam P. Liff, Not-So-Empty Talk: The Danger of China’s ‘New Type of Great-Power Relations’ Slogan,” Foreign Affairs, 9 October 2014.