Since June, the coordinated efforts by the United States, its European allies and Japan have succeeded in isolating China to a degree that its leaders could not have imagined before they ordered the June 3-4 assault on Tian An Men Square by the People's Liberation Army.
'World Will Come Around'
Analysts here say that the Chinese leadership has decided to wait things out on the assumption that the international pressure eventually will slacken. "China's overall reaction has been to take the position that the world will come around," said Harry Harding, a China scholar at the Brookings Institution.
There are indications that the strategy is succeeding. The Bush Administration has already taken small steps to restore some ties with the Chinese leadership, and several more such changes may be coming in the next few weeks:
-- Although the United States and its allies forced the World Bank to suspend $780 million in loans to China last June, bank officials say privately that they believe the Bush Administration and the Europeans and Japanese will give the green light within the next month to proceed with some of these loans.
Baker Met Foreign Minister
-- President Bush ruled out any exchanges between U.S. officials and the Chinese government at the level of assistant secretary or higher. But in August, Secretary of State James A. Baker III met with Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen in Paris, and sources say that the two men may talk again at the United Nations this month. Chinese Ambassador to the United States Han Xu had official meetings with Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, Baker and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft last month before ending his assignment in Washington.
-- Although the Bush Administration originally suspended all sales to China of goods or technology with military applications, the Administration has since begun to grant waivers clearing the way for a number of important items, such as commercial planes and satellites.
The U.S. ban on military sales "hasn't done a thing really," observed one Asian diplomat who keeps track of U.S. arms sales to China. "Virtually all of the military equipment they (U.S. officials) wanted to sell had either already gone or won't be ready for several years. And they will grant special exceptions for the rest."
Sought to Limit Change
The Bush Administration designed its response to the Tian An Men Square massacre to limit the extent of change in U.S. policy toward China. Indeed, in private, Administration officials express much less concern over the violence and political repression in China than over the reaction to those events by Congress and the American public.
One Administration official said recently that the "prevailing view" in the Bush White House is that American television gave a selective, unrepresentative portrait of events in China and that the significance of those events is being exaggerated. Such claims parallel closely the arguments made by the Chinese leadership itself since the massacre.
"Many, many more people were killed during the Cultural Revolution, at the time when President (Richard M.) Nixon went to China," this U.S. official said.
Underlying the Bush Administration's China policy is the belief that the army's assault on Beijing represents a short-term aberration for China and that Chinese leaders such as President Yang Shangkun and Premier Li Peng will not be able to consolidate their control over the nation.
Factional Struggles Possible
"We don't expect the current crowd to last more than two years," said one senior U.S. policy-maker. Some of the leaders eventually could be replaced peacefully, he said, or there could be factional struggles within the top leadership in which one side or another resorts to force.
Because the Administration is hoping for changes for the better in the Chinese leadership, it has been trying to avoid any action against China that cannot be quickly undone. After the massacre last June, the Administration was careful to say that it was "suspending"--rather than permanently severing--military sales and high-level political contacts with China.