Author: Dr Thomas L Wilborn
Dr. Wilborn examines U.S.-China security cooperation before Tiananmen, the strategic context in which it took place, and the strategic environment of U.S.-China relations at the present time. He then concludes that the reasons which justified the program of security cooperation with China during the cold war are irrelevant today. Security cooperation and military-to-military relations with China are highly desirable in the strategic environment of the 1990s. China is a major regional power which inevitably will affect U.S. security interests, and the PLA is an extremely important institution within that nation. Additionally, as a member of the U.N. Security Council and one of the five acknowledged nuclear powers, China’s actions can influence a wide range of U.S. global interests. In the future, China is likely to be even more powerful and its actions more significant for the United States. Structurally, renewed U.S.-China security cooperation can be modeled on the program of the 1980s. However, the purpose of the high level visits, functional exchanges, and technological cooperation will no longer be to strengthen a strategic alliance against a common enemy, as it was before, but to contribute to stability in an important region of the world and to achieve U.S. global objectives.