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Into the Next Millennium
(1979 – )

next   As leadership of China passed to Deng Xiaoping and relations had been formalized with the United States, China’s economy boomed. Deng’s new brand of socialism de-emphasized political revolution, choosing instead to “liberate and develop productive forces.” Even though Nixon’s reason for “opening” China had more to do with Cold War politics than economics, American businesses welcomed the new market and its potential of more than one billion new customers.
Shang (1523-1027 BC)  
Chou (1027-221 BC)  
Ch'in (221-206 BC)  
Han (206 BC-AD 220)  
Three Kingdoms (220-581)  
Sui (581-618)   Deng’s reforms brought Westerners back to China. The result was new wealth and consumerism, giving China a wider window on the world. Many began to debate political reform and agitate for new freedoms. As communism collapsed in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s the agitation in China increased, climaxing in June 1989 when over one million protesters occupied Peking’s Tiananmen Square. Deng declared martial law, allowing the military to crush the uprising. America debated China’s record on human rights with new intensity.
T'ang (618-907)  
Sung (907-1279)  
Yüan (1279-1368)  
Ming (1368-1644)  
Ch'ing (1644-1912)  
Opening the Door (1844-1911)  
The Period of Revolution (1912-1949)  
Mao's Dynasty (1949-1976)  
Raising the Bamboo Curtain (1972-1979)      
Throughout this period Congress annually had granted to China Most Favored Nation (MFN) trade status. While America was able to use MFN as leverage to advance the cause of human rights, China was able to counter by holding forth its growing market, increasing at a rate faster than any other region in the world. Indeed, the Asian region’s share in the world’s output had increased to more than twenty percent, and the United States now traded more with the Pacific Rim than with Europe. In 1994 the Clinton administration removed human rights from MFN consideration, arguing that increased economic trade would go far in improving conditions in China.
There continues to be friction between the U. S. and China. In part this is political, the result of conflicting views between a democracy and a communist state. In part this is the result of China’s long-held suspicion of foreign cultures. As China’s market and influence grows through the 21st century and the United States continues as the world’s foremost superpower, relations between the two certainly will grow in importance.