Impact of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks on U.S.-China Relations   [open pdf - 435KB]

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States had minimal impact on U.S.-China relations. The attacks merely rearranged U.S. strategic priorities in Asia while having no effect on Chinese strategic priorities. Before September 11, U.S. strategic priorities in Asia were U.S.-China relations, and containing North Korean aggression and its development of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). After September 11, U.S. strategic priorities in Asia became the U.S. war on terror (WOT), containing North Korean Aggression and its development of WMD, and U.S.-China relations. This reordering of priorities did not result from stabilizing U.S.-China relations, but rather because of the increased threat of international terrorism towards the United States and U.S. interests. The Chinese strategic priorities of regime stability, territorial integrity, and increasing international prestige and power, did not change because of the attacks. The change in U.S. strategic priorities in Asia made the U.S.-China relationship more stable. Going forward, the PRC is likely to favor stable relations with the United States as long as China does not consider the expanding United States presence in Asia, because of the U.S. WOT, an immediate threat to Chinese strategic priorities.

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