“Although the collapse of the Soviet Union had eliminated the common threat that had brought China and the U.S. together in the 1960s and 1970s, there were other reasons to prevent a return to continued confrontation. For the U.S, the economic growth being generated by China’s policy of reform and opening meant that China would play an increasingly important role in Asia and even globally. For China, positive ties with the United States were essential to the success of that policy, given the importance of American capital and American markets. For both governments, therefore, the Sino-American relationship was too important to fail.”

From The United States and China from Partners to Competitors by Harry Harding, professor of Public Policy at University of Virginia; visiting professor of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Written for the Carter Center’s symposium to commemorate President Carter’s 1979 decision to normalize relations with China. View or download the paper here.

Credit: University of Virginia