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POL 63 — US-China Relations: From Cold War to Cold Shoulder

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): Nov 1—Dec 6
Time: 5:30—7:20 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Nov 3
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $360
Instructor(s): Thomas Fingar
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on November 22
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
5:30—7:20 pm (PT)
Nov 1—Dec 6
5 weeks
Refund Date
Nov 3
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Thomas Fingar
Please Note: No class on November 22
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
The US-China relationship is often described as the most important in the world. It’s also considered dangerously strained. According to many experts, the United States views China's military modernization, mercantilist policies, and authoritarian shift with mounting concern, while China sees US intervention in areas like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea as threats to its sovereignty and security. These divergent viewpoints have led the China-US relationship to a new low, creating fears that the two countries could spiral into conflict barring effective policy changes. This is the current narrative. It turns out that this narrative is often exaggerated and, in some cases, wrong.

This course will examine the complex relationship between the United States and China, tracing its evolution from the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 to the present day. Through a critical analysis of the perceptions, priorities, and policies of both nations, the course will shed light on the underlying factors that have shaped this relationship over time. Understanding the historical context and nuances of this dynamic is crucial for effectively managing the relationship and mitigating potential challenges and conflicts moving forward. This course will examine four distinct periods in the history of US-China relations and conclude with a thought-provoking examination of the future trajectory of this critical global relationship.

Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford

Thomas Fingar was the inaugural Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow and a Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford. He has worked on, in, and with China since the mid-1960s as a scholar and a US government official. He was a founding member and later director of Stanford’s US-China Relations Program before joining the State Department in 1986 as chief of the China Division. His subsequent positions in Washington included director of analysis on East Asia and the Pacific, deputy assistant secretary of state for analysis, assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research, and deputy director of national intelligence for analysis. He has been at Stanford since 2009 and has written and edited books on China. He received a PhD in political science from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) Thomas Fingar and Jean C. Oi, eds, Fateful Decisions: Choices that will Shape China’s Future(Studies of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center)1st (ISBN 978-1503612235)
(Recommended) Harry Harding, A Fragile Relationship: The United States and China Since 1972, 1st (ISBN 978-0815734659)
(Recommended) David M. Lampton, Same Bed, Different Dreams: Managing US-China Relations 1989-2000, 1st (ISBN 978-0520234628 )
(Recommended) Anne F. Thurston, ed, Engaging China: Fifty Years of Sino-American Relations, 1st (ISBN 978-0231201292 )