Many people thought that America might learn a lesson from the Korean War. Unfortunately, that was not the case. In the 1960s, Uncle Sam became involved in another Asian affair with the Chinese — Vietnam. This time Washington supported the Southern regime while Beijing stood by the Northern regime headed by Ho Chi Minh. Both the Chinese and the Americans had become a bit smarter by this time, because both sides tried to avoid direct military conflict like they had experienced during the Korean War. The two Vietnams, which represented China and the United States indirectly, fought each other severely for ten years because both Washington and Beijing logistically supported their own regime. In the end, the United States lost about 58,000 solders before withdrawing from the Vietnam War.
Within two decades after WWII, the United Stated fought two wars — the Korean War and the Vietnam War — with the Chinese. Fortunately, now, American academia has progressed. In order to educate young people in the United States and the world, John King Fairbank from Harvard University established “Asian Studies,” which educates young Americans about the Chinese — not only Chinese history but also Chinese culture. In 1968, John King Fairbank published The Chinese World Order: Traditional China’s Foreign Relations, which has influenced many members of the younger generations. Later, in 1999, Richard Solemn published Chinese Negotiating Behavior: Pursuing Interests Through ‘Old Friends.’ Both books have been used in the teaching of sinologists for decades. Since then, many universities and colleges in the United States have begun teaching Asian Studies and prepared many excellent sinologists across America. Many sinologists, including Allen Whiting (in the Nixon Administration), Michael Oksenberg (in the Carter Administration), Joseph Nye (in the Clinton Administration), and Ezra F. Vogel (in the Clinton Administration), have served American presidents, who have made less mistakes involving Asian Affairs, particularly Chinese affairs.
Sadly, the last sinologist who served in the White House was Kenneth Lieberthal (from 1998 to 2000). Since Barack Obama took office in February 2009, no real sinologists have worked in the White House. In 2010, President Obama offered the ill-fated pivot-Asian-policy toward China; the relationship between China and the United States has not improved. Today Sino-U.S. relations have been heading toward a cliff as a result of the wage war in both the East and South China Sea (SCS). Not only the White House but American lawmakers also have lost their sense of an understanding of history between the Red Dragon and Uncle Sam. Even John McCain, the former Vietnam War prisoner of war, has forgotten his own “pain” experienced during his time in a prison camp, by stressing provocative statements and activities in the U.S. Congress against the Chinese in the SCS, which will not help the relationship between Beijing and Washington. It is time for American politicians to learn history and the Chinese signals, because this is how direct military conflict and miscalculations will be avoided.