02 March 2021

Going Nowhere Slowly: U.S.-China Military Relations, 1994-2001

Who got China “wrong”? Many, sadly… Who got China “right”? General Charles Hooper, for one!

I knew General Hooper KNEW the PRC in meeting him there when he served as Defense Attaché, U.S. Embassy Beijing (2007–09).

But it’s worth revisiting his insights from even before that, in 2006, during his second time at Harvard.

Having received an MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School in 1989, Hooper returned to Harvard in 2005 as a Senior Research Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

In 2006, General Hooper published a research paper that has aged extremely well over fifteen years… If only it had been policy then! A must-read now–

Charles W. Hooper, “Going Nowhere Slowly: U.S.-China Military Relations, 1994-2001,” Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, July 7, 2006.

Presciently concludes that the policy of military engagement with China, as originally envisioned and articulated by Secretary of Defense William Perry in the early 1990s, and executed by subsequent defense secretaries through the turn of the century, failed to meet its stated objectives. Contends the bilateral military relationship has not made a significant contribution to improving U.S.-China relations and has had little-to-no influence on Chinese security policies that conflict with U.S. national security interests. Accordingly, suggests more realistic operating assumptions, approaches, and expectations.