This book addresses head-on a core current critique of how the Sino-American relationship was managed across eight administrations. The essence of this critique is that naïve U.S. elites confused their hopes for democracy and a globally responsible China with the actual prospects for those desirable ends, and, in the process, unwisely traded away American interests, competitive position, and national security. In short, the U.S. bolstered the principal strategic threat that it now faces. This book is a fact-based challenge to that simplistic narrative.
Today, developments in the U.S.-China relationship are converging in a fashion that is setting off fire alarm bells. At this moment, in 2023, the underbrush is plentiful, the winds unfavorable, and the atmosphere parched. The fire hazard between America and China is increasing unlike anything we have seen in a half century. This volume describes our current condition and explains the last half-century that has brought us to this perilous day.
The defining and unique characteristic of Living U.S.-China Relations is that it tells the story of U.S.-China ties as the relationship between two societies, not just two states, and it does so through the author’s lived experience over nearly sixty years.
David M. Lampton was president of the National Committee on United States-China Relations from 1988-1997. He has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Far Eastern Studies, and has received top recognitions from Johns Hopkins as a Gilman Scholar, the Committee of 100, The U.S.-China Policy Foundation, the Journal of Contemporary China, Ohio State University for teaching, and was the National Bureau of Asian Research’s inaugural winner of the Scalapino Prize. He is a Life Trustee on the Board of Trustees of Colorado College and was in the US Army Reserve in the enlisted and commissioned ranks.
This is not just another book on the US-China relationship. David Lampton is not only one of the very top scholars and observers, he is also an eyewitness living through the evolution of and a player working on the relationship during the past half-century. The result is a unique book combining scholarly vigorous and first-hand personal experiences to offer a historically in-depth and up-to-date analysis of the most consequential bilateral relationship in the world going beyond the state-to-state interactions and telling the vivid story of the ties between the two societies.
Living US-China Relations describes the evolution of US engagement with China using personal encounters that illustrate the objectives, excitement, and frustrations of officials and ordinary people on both sides. Lampton’s book demonstrates when, how, and why mutual perceptions and the modalities of engagement changed over time, what we have learned about China, and how interactions of Chinese and American participants shaped their and his understanding of people and politics. This is a marvelous book.
Personal and humane, as well as uniquely informed, Lampton’s fascinating history testifies to the importance, and complexity, of “waging peace” in the U.S.-China relationship. As we enter an uncertain and dangerous future, Living U.S.-China Relations provides indispensable guidance to those seeking to avoid calamity.
No one is better qualified than Professor Lampton to offer useful and judiciously balanced reflections on U.S.-China relations at a time of great peril in the bilateral relationship. He brings the perspective of the historian, the understanding of long exposure to Chinese in all walks of life, and the insight gained over fifty years of deep involvement with China in good times and bad. Highly recommended.
A must-read for anyone interested in U.S. - China relations. With verve and candor David M. Lampton explores people and policies he has personally encountered from the l970s to today. His intellectual evolution pays tribute to many mentors and leads to a nuanced portrayal of this critical but fraught bi-lateral relationship.
Reading Mike Lampton's wonderful memoir provides a unique firsthand view of the development of post-Mao China and Sino-American relations. Even more, it provides insight into a well-lived life marked by devotion to family, commitment to a profession, and unwavering integrity.