The United States has made a major concession to China in agreeing to have Secretary of State James A. Baker III visit Beijing later this month, the first formal high-level U.S. presence there since the June 1989 massacres in Tiananmen Square. Now China will have to reciprocate with conciliatory moves on human rights, trade and arms control if bilateral relations are to improve.
Indeed, it is almost inconceivable that the Bush administration would make this gesture if it did not have advance assurances that visible progress will be made. President Bush, a former U.S. envoy to China, has been severely criticized for keeping the door open to a country he believes is too large and too important to isolate. Barring a breakthrough, this could become an issue in the 1992 presidential election.
Although China has adhered to tough-worded rhetoric against what it calls outside interference in its internal affairs, it has made a number of cooperative moves to improve its image in world affairs. These include: its refusal to veto Security Council resolutions against Iraq, its support of the United Nations peace settlement on Cambodia, its decision to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its willingness to accept visits by human rights groups, its promise of cooperation in fighting drug trafficking and its release of a number of leading dissidents and their spouses.