By Alex Southworth
China is the most populated country in the world and their influence grows with each passing year.
Steve Gates, who is getting a master’s in China Studies and has a resume in foreign affairs, recently presented on campus.
Gates spoke about the past, present and current relationship between the U.S. and China and how Chinese ascendance will affect citizens of both countries.
During his presentation, he outlined the history of America’s dealings with China and explained how the incentive for the relationship has adjusted recurrently through the succession of U.S. Presidents.
“In the future, our relationship with China will be one of the biggest challenges for America,” Gates said.
Presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton each emphasized different values in foreign affairs.
According to Gates, this is a problem. Issues such as security, trade and human rights have received ephemeral attention at times, yet America hasn’t exacted its values for foreign policy.
For Nixon, the incentive was security. For Carter, it was human rights. For Bush Sr., trade and commerce. Now, no one really knows.
With this in mind, Gates explained that America and China have competed in many areas; but during Sept. 11, the U.S. experienced a period of distraction. The focus of the nation was lopsided from trade and commerce to security and survival. This caused the country to become remiss in regards to other political principles, including human rights.
Gates argued that regardless of what the temporary incentive is, America should be engaged in defending its national values, which he says should be visible in foreign policy.
Although America isn’t going to march into China and change its policies on human rights, the policies can have an impact – especially in regards to becoming an exemplar for their system of government.
“There could come a time when the people of China upset the foundations of what China has been approaching,” Gates said.
In other words, if the stifled populations of China were to revolt and overthrow the government, how would the formerly repressed Chinese citizens feel if America hadn’t stood up for its values? This could be part of the reason Gates expressed a belief that the relationship with China is going to be so significant in the future.
Gates heavily emphasized the point that everyone has the right to join the critical conversation and should supply suggestions as constituents.