The case evolves from the controversy raised by the action of the Chinese government opening fire to a group of unarmed protestors in who mainly comprised of unarmed students. The world reacted in varied ways a majority of the nations including Britain and Australia condemning the action of the Chinese government opening fire to non-violent protestors. Some countries supported the action taken by the Chinese government such as Hungary and Burma. Other countries chose not to take any defined stand or by given muted reactions to the incident, these included the United States and the USSR. The USSR reacted by noting that there was the need for progressive change in the manner the Chinese were to conduct their affairs without stating any specific measure the Chinese were to put in the conduct of their affairs politically moving forward while the bush administration’s reaction is the subject of this paper.
The reactions elicited in each of these countries is as a result of their particular stand in the worlds politics of the time and the relations they intended to foster with the people’s republic of China at the time. The setting of the incident coincides with the post cold war period, where the two major powers in the world at the time were in a tussle of dominance and power display. The USSR and the United States were embroiled in a bitter contest over the world in all matters ranging from nuclear arms, political systems and most importantly economic ideologies which they both sought to spread to the world.
The USSR, which is in close proximity to china, practiced the ideology of communism which china had adopted. The United States therefore sought to make approaches at china and establish some kind of working relationship with her in order to counter the influence of the USSR on the Chinese. The people’s republic of china also saw the USSR as posing a strategic threat to them and therefore needed the insurance of the United States to counter this threat. The United States in the other hand wanted to establish a relationship where they would do business with the Chinese people and at the same time exploit the cheap labor offered by the huge Chinese population. The USSR had an interest at increasing its influence in china as well. The incident was of a great international political significance and required measured responses in line with the international policy of each country.
The constructivism and liberalism theories as they applied to the case
The government of the United States employed a number of political policy theories in dealing with the incident. The executive, who comprises of the president and his circle of power, adopted the policy of constructivism while taking into consideration the liberal principles that the United States holds. The United States holds that the advancement of its liberal international theory often associated with President Wilson Woodrow who saw the spread of democracy as the key to world peace, based on the claim that democratic states were inherently more peaceful than authoritarian states. The executive did not want to jeopardize the relationship that the United States had forged with the people’s republic of china and as such was reluctant to criticize openly the action of the Chinese government. The constructivist theory holds that the governments seek to concentrate on the sources of change4 and view the state as a highly malleable product of specific historical processes. The constructivist theory recognizes that change is achievable from a number of angles such as economic, social structure and political structure of Nations. This is in departure from the realist theory that focuses on material factors such as power and trade. The constructivist theory incorporates all these factors as seeking to impact the change it needs and employs the most suitable stand in the circumstances. The president employs this stand by his statement regarding the massacre, Bush characterized Deng Xiaoping as a “forward looking” leader, but condemned the excessive brutality of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. By his reluctance to directly attack the president, the president hoped that the united states, by maintaining normal relations with the peoples, republic of china, they would have more chances at dialogue and in time effect the ascension to power of more liberal and democratic leaders. The sacrifice by the United States to take decisive action on a matter of international policy to which it has a strong conviction against was a departure from the liberal policies employed by previous presidents such as Woodrow Wilson.
The public and congress reactions exemplify the stand that the United States held as a country, that of liberalism. The American people—through Congress—demanded strong diplomatic and economic sanctions. Seventy-five percent of Americans polled felt that the United States should suspend arms sales to China, while the General public opinion of China swung from 72 percent favorable in May to 78 percent unfavorable after the massacre. The general belief in the United States was that the clear departure from democratic principles, which the protestors died agitating for, was a clear indication of the peoples, republic of china’s reluctance to take a progressively democratic model of governance. This stand, according to popular belief in the United States, left the people of that country vulnerable and oppressed and with a leadership that was not predictable about international peace.
Recommendations on the applicability of the constructivism theory to international relations policy
The theory of constructivism appeared to be the most apt theory for application to the situation as has been evident in recent years. The people’s republic of china has risen to become an increasingly eminent player in world economics. The rise of the Chinese nation has seen its increased dominance in world economics and a progressively assertive role in world politics. The United States has remained a key partner to the Chinese government and remains the singular biggest trade partner to the Chinese people. The United States has a healthy number of its multinationals running from china in a bid to exploit the favorable conditions to manufacture available in china this goes to show the cordial relationship that has blossomed between the two nations. The political organization in china, while not democratic as would have been ideal in the interests of the united states, has employed progressively sensitive human rights policy considering its history and the human rights record it held in previous years. Countries should try to apply flexible and accommodative international policies. This is advised by the progressive nature of the global politics. More and more nations are becoming empowered and capable of stating their positions authoritatively in global matters. The escalation of nuclear threat has also given nations possessing these weapons leverage, and as such, global politics has increasingly been sensitive.
Strengths and weaknesses of the theory in interpreting the case
The theory was strong in interpretation the case since the explicit actions of the government conformed to its basic requirement of incorporation of all spheres of life in trying to explain international policy issues. The government forwent the present recommendable reaction in the interest of progressive and long-term solution. The realist and liberal theories recommend action with regards to factors affecting the state such as military action and economic sanctions respectively. The American government, while it instituted economic sanctions against the Chinese state, reverted to normal trade and sought a return to normal America – China relations while trying to effect change through subtle means such as negotiations. The weaknesses that theory failed to explain however are in relation to the nations subject to the policy failure to respond. The Chinese government has shown no progressive measures taken towards the implementation of democracy in their state. The United States being a major proponent of democracy seems to fail with regards to influencing that change in the country.