In United States politics, the China lobby is a phrase to describe special interest groups acting on behalf of the governments of either the People's Republic of China; or groups acting on the behalf of Republic of China (Taiwan) to influence Sino-American relations; or those in the U.S. who lobby for what they deem as pro Chinese American policies and closer Sino-American relations.
During much of the twentieth century, the term "China lobby" was used most often to refer to special interest groups acting on behalf of the Republic of China (ROC). Before increased Sino-American engagement following the 1972 Nixon visit to China, and the American recognition of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1979, the PRC lobby was overshadowed by representatives of Taiwan's interests. The then small Chinese American community largely shared a pro Taiwan perspective. Since that time, the PRC lobby has greatly strengthened, and by the 1990s, "China lobby" began to refer to special interest groups who work to achieve the PRC's desired political, economic, immigration policies in Sino-American relations by influencing American policy makers, economic interests and the public.
During the Second Sino-Japanese War (which took place simultaneously with World War II), the China lobby helped convince Congress to donate hard cash and many tons of war material in support of Chiang Kai-shek's war against the Japanese in China and Indochina even before formal American entrance into the Second World War following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Cold War period
The Committee of One Million Against the Admission of Communist China to the United Nations, which later changed its name to The Committee of One Million Against the Admission of Communist China to the United Nations was the dominant lobby on Sino-Americans issues until the U.S. and PRC began an opening of relations and the PRC was admitted to the U.N., becoming a member of the U.N. Security Council. This organization was established by Marvin Liebman, a political activist.
During the 1970s, the China (ROC) lobby itself campaigned furiously to prevent American recognition of the People's Republic of China (PRC), but its efforts proved to be unsuccessful and the PRC was recognized by the United States in 1979.
After the Nixon Visit to China
Occurring from February 21 to 28, 1972, the visit allowed the American public to view images of China for the first time in over two decades. Throughout the week the President and his most senior advisers engaged in substantive discussions with the PRC, including a meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong, while First Lady Pat Nixon toured schools, factories and hospitals in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou with the large American press corps in tow. Nixon dubbed the visit "the week that changed the world."
In an effort to build toward formal diplomatic relations, the US and the PRC established a United States Liaison Office (USLO) in Beijing and a counterpart PRC office in Washington. In 1973 to 1978, such distinguished Americans as David K. E. Bruce, George H. W. Bush, Thomas S. Gates, Jr., and Leonard Woodcock served as chiefs of the USLO with the personal rank of ambassador. China made clear that it considered the Soviet Union its chief adversary, and urged the United States to be powerful, thereby distracting Moscow. Liaison officer George Bush concluded, "China keeps wanting us to be strong, wanting us to defend Europe, wanting us to increase our defense budgets, etc." Bush concluded that American engagement was essential to support markets, allies, and stability in Asia and around the world.
President Gerald Ford visited the PRC in 1975 and reaffirmed American interest in normalizing relations with Beijing. Shortly after taking office in 1977, President Jimmy Carter again reaffirmed the goals of the Shanghai Communiqué. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Carter's National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, and senior staff member of the National Security Council Michel Oksenberg encouraged Carter to seek full diplomatic and trade relations with China.
Deng Xiaoping Period
In 1979 the Taiwan Relations Act was signed by President Carter, which committed the United States to provide military and other support for Taiwan and provided guidelines for future trade and other relations.
In 1980 Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping launched the so-called "Reform and Opening" policies. Deng Xiaoping embarked on a major process of economic changes, and pressed the U.S. to open trade relations. One of the main aspects of this was opening the doors to international trade and business. China lobbied to gain business from the United States, and companies began to flock to China to take advantage of the new opportunities made possible by trade laws. China was invited to join the IMF and World Bank.
In 1982 after additional negotiations concerning coordinating positions regarding the Soviet Union and Taiwan, the United States and China released another joint communiqué, the Third Communiqué, by which the United States agreed to reduce its arms sales to Taiwan and China agreed to emphasize a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue. The next year, Deng Xiaoping proposed the "one country, two systems" approach for reunification with both Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In 1986 China joined the Asian Development Bank and applied for membership in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The United States at the time did not support China’s entry into the latter two organizations because of reservations about the degree of openness of China’s economy.
In 1989 in the aftermath of the Chinese military crackdown on demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in the spring, the United States and other nations imposed economic sanctions on China, and many U.S. citizens evacuated the country. President George H.W. Bush maintained communications with senior Chinese leaders, though tensions continued into the next year, with criticisms aired from both sides. Diplomatic ties were never severed and China remained open to foreign trade.
Post Deng Xiaoping Period
In 1992 the first high-level contacts in several years occurred when President George H.W. Bush and Chinese Premier Li Peng met on the sidelines of a U.N. conference. President Bush maintained support for Taiwan by authorizing new arms sales and dispatching a Special Trade Representative to the island.
President Clinton had in 1993 tied the annual review of Most Favored Nation trading status to China’s record on human rights, a decision that was in keeping with popular opinion on China. When this status came up for renewal the next year, Clinton reversed this position and granted China MFN without requiring any changes regarding human rights.
In 1998 President Bill Clinton agreed that the United States held to a "three no’s policy" regarding Taiwan. By this he meant that the United States does not support Taiwan’s independence, "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan" policies, or Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is required.
Late in 1999 in the year, after lobbying by China, the two sides finally came to an agreement and China was able to join the WTO. The annual debate over China’s trading status within the United States was ended when President Clinton decided to grant China permanent Normal Trade Relations (NTR, formerly MFN).
In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the PRC lobby has focused on playing up common interests with the United States in the War on Terrorism. The PRC lobby has also tried to counter the domestic American interest groups which seek to bring pressure upon the PRC to move from a fixed currency to a floating currency.
In 2004, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) created a working group to look at new ways for outward immigration to benefit China, a policy that was first initiated in 1985. The group was tasked with balancing the need to promote economic development and protect national security and social stability. Seminars were organized to discuss Western immigration laws.
Neil Bush, son of George H.W. Bush (who had been instrumental in opening China to U.S. investment and bilateral trade as the Ambassador to the PRC) in 2011 incorporated an accounting firm called LehmanBush with veteran China lawyer Edward Lehman. In 2002, Bush signed a consulting contract that paid $2 million in stock over five years to work for Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., a firm backed by Jiang Mianheng, the son of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, plus $10,000 for every board meeting he attends.
- Asia first
- Influence PRC influence operations in the United States
- China Hands
- Clare Boothe Luce
- Committee of 100 (United States)
- Blue Team (U.S. politics)
- Africa–China relations
- King & Wood Mallesons
- Caribbean–China relations
- China Council for the Promotion of International Trade
- Chinese Century
- Foreign policy of the People's Republic of China
- Go Out policy
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China
- National Committee on United States–China Relations
- Overseas Chinese Affairs Office
- 1996 United States campaign finance controversy
- SinoLatin Capital
- List of wars involving the People's Republic of China
- China–United States relations
- Territorial disputes in the South China Sea
- Hainan Island incident
- Foreign exchange reserve of the People's Republic of China
- State Administration of Foreign Exchange
- China Investment Corporation, CITIC
- History of banking in China
- T. V. Soong
- Propaganda in the People's Republic of China
- Johnny Chung
- Katrina Leung
- Warren Cohen, "The China Lobby." Encyclopedia of American foreign policy: studies of the principal movements and ideas 1 (1978): 104.
- Jeffrey A. Engel, ed. (2011). The China Diary of George H. W. Bush: The Making of a Global President. Princeton UP. p. 356.
- Jon Meacham (2015). Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. p. 219.
- "Bush's younger brother quizzed over $2m deal". The Sydney Morning Herald. November 26, 2003.
- Bachrack, Stanley D. The Committee of One Million: "China Lobby" Politics, 1953-1971. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976.
- Davis, Forrest, and Robert A. Hunter. The Red China Lobby. New York: Fleet, 1963.
- Keeley, Joseph Charles. The China Lobby Man: The Story of Alfred Kohlberg. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1969.
- Koen, Ross Y., and edited with an Introduction by Richard C. Kagan. The China Lobby in American Politics. (1974).
- Mao, Joyce. Asia First: China and the Making of Modern American Conservatism (University of Chicago Press, 2015). viii, 226 pp.