Brent Scowcroft Center Senior Fellow Robert Manning writes for The National Interest on the rethinking of US policy toward China:
In recent weeks a tsunami of papers, reports and articles have surfaced calling for a rethinking of US policy toward China. They veer in all policy directions from reconciling differences and forming an Asia-Pacific community, to containment and confrontation. But they all reflect a troubling epiphany that has seized attention from policy-watchers: core assumptions that have guided a bipartisan China policy for eight presidencies, from Nixon to Obama are unraveling. One prominent China scholar has even boldly pronounced that we are witnessing is “the beginning of the end of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Though the Nixon opening was a strategic counter to the USSR, as China reformed and modernized its economy post-1979, U.S. policy has assumed that as a Chinese middle class grew, political reform, if not democratization would follow. This has been the case across Asia over the past three decades—in the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Mongolia, Thailand and Indonesia. It may eventually occur—China is, by several orders of magnitude larger than other Asian democratized states with a 3,000-year-old culture—but in its own way and on its own timeline. For now, the Communist Party has tightened political control.