Two Lessons About Negotiating With China; A Recent Event at the Richard Nixon Library

by Joe

Dr. Wood recently participated in an event hosted at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda on March 28th. The theme was “Only One China? The Shanghai Communique in the age of Trump”

Speakers for the event-r1

A distinguished panel of speakers at the Richard Nixon Library.

Following a VIP Meet-and Greet Reception a panel discussion was moderated by Clayton Dube who heads the USC U.S.-China Institute. Panel members included Karl Eikenberry Director of the U.S. -Asia Security Initiative of Stanford Asia-Pacific Research Center. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2009-2011.

He was joined by Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy, distinguished scholar of the Kissinger Institute on China. His ambassadorial assignments included Singapore, China and Indonesia. Also in attendance was John Pomfret, correspondent for the Washington Post and a Fulbright Senior Scholar living in Beijing. His recent book “The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom” (see pictured) is worth having if you are wishing to become an expert on China.


John Pomfret, correspondent for the Washington Post and a Fulbright Senior Scholar living in Beijing, was also in attendance. Mr. Pomfret is the author of The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom.

As the title for the event indicates, the emphasis was upon the Shanghai Communique crafted and agreed upon by Mao Zedong and Richard Nixon. It never made the status of “law” in either country but has provided the basis of relationship between China and the USA since that time. During that famous meeting, Mao told Nixon, “We can be patient regarding Taiwan and wait 100 years.” Ambassador Roy noted, “My diplomatic experience reveals when someone says 100 years it means forever.”

The general consensus of the panel was that Taiwan will eventually be reunified with mainland China. It was also noted that Taiwan’s status is unique. Taiwan has full autonomy in governing. They are under no immediate military threat. The position of the USA supports a peaceful resolution. The only way that can happen is for both parties to agree to reunification. It was suggested that the motivation for such a refunification will be economic.

Meeting New Friends

Word 4 Asia enjoyed meeting new friends at the Nixon Library on 3/28/17.

Regarding the recent statement of President Trump, the “One China Policy” may be negotiable. The panel surmised it was due to a non-politician not having an expert cabinet in place to advise him and not being sufficiently counseled. Once he had his people in place, President Trump quickly reverted to the “One China Position.” Roy noted that President Trump violated the best wisdom of “the art of the deal” when he laid on the table what he absolutely could not win.

There were two take-aways. First, the Shanghai communique was reached because both the USA and China both feared Russia in 1972. It is interesting how both may be at the same point in 2017.
Second, Richard Nixon was able to reach this pivotal point in Sino-American relationships because he was willing to go to China in person. This is an historic lesson that anyone wishing to achieve much in today’s China must understand; first we make friends, and then we can do business. There is no substitute for face-to-face time.

Conference Room Available

One of the available conference rooms at the Nixon Library.

If you are considering hosting a Chinese delegation in the Los Angeles area, the Richard Nixon Presidential Museum and Library is a stop worth considering. W4A has hosted numerous delegations from China and we find that they appreciate relevant history.

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