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Commentaries by Mel Gurtov

Mel Gurtov

Editor-in-Chief, Asian Perspective

Mel Gutov is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University and Editor-in-Chief of Asian Perspective. He writes a foreign-policy blog, “In the Human Interest,” at His most recent book is Will This Be China’
  • Nov 17 , 2017

    The Chinese like to say, with considerable justice, that the strength of a country’s foreign policy depends on domestic politics.  Here the contrast between the US and China is stark, and provides the essential background for understanding where the two great powers really stand.  Whereas Xi has consolidated his power for the next five years—and some observers believe he might rule beyond 2022—Trump’s very legitimacy is in question. 

  • Nov 01 , 2017

    Neither the United States nor China has shown interest in common security principles or practices, which would require consistent collaboration on the most urgent global problems: nuclear weapons, climate change, and poverty. Rather than focus on “the era,” these two great powers might better consider two fundamental issues: how to manage their differences so as to avoid confrontations, and how to cooperate in ways that truly benefit human security.

  • Apr 27 , 2017

    Successful conflict management calls for establishing a peaceful way of doing business. That approach emphasizes inducements, which may stimulate talks and reciprocal concessions; use of all three levels of diplomacy—official, nonofficial, and people-to-people; and actions on the ground that, by reducing tensions, reverse the momentum for conflict.

  • Dec 22 , 2016

    President-elect Trump is lacking practical experience in China beyond making the occasional sale to a businessman. This does not translate into foreign policy, and undermines the “great relationship” that he’s claimed to have since the campaign. It seems that in Trump’s mind, everything China does is suspect.

  • Jun 20 , 2016

    Both the U.S. and China must bear responsibility for the ratcheting up of tension in the SCS and East China Sea. Washington clings to “freedom of navigation” as its principal reason for challenging Chinese claims even though unencumbered passage has not denied U.S. or any other country’s ships. Beijing should be consistent in recognizing that a legitimate dispute exists, just as it demands that Japan acknowledge a sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyutai/Senkaku islands.

  • Feb 05 , 2016

    The China Dream and the China Model are complementary in Xi’s strategic vision, of which relations with the developing world are a central part. Developments in the Middle East and Africa show how large a factor China now is in economic globalization, but while the China Model is based on noninterference in politics, Mel Gurtov argues that separating economics from politics is a challenge.

  • Jun 16 , 2015

    Just as U.S. President Bill Clinton expressed to Chinese President Jiang Zemin in 1996, both countries need to rely on the common interests of combating climate change and strengthening mutual security. This can happen with improved and people-to-people interaction.

  • May 18 , 2015

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with congressional approval, is primed to have “fast track” status to avoid public debate. The TPP would provide new incentives to send jobs abroad, increase corporate earnings, remove protections from both overseas and U.S. environments and workers; supporters argue that it is necessary to “outflank” China.

  • Sep 02 , 2014

    While the United States continues to try and resolve disputes in the South China Sea to protect the security of established sea routes and ports, China finds the situation to be stable. Dismissing any alleged tensions, China claims that it and ASEAN do not need U.S. interference to help rectify the so-called dispute.

  • Jul 15 , 2014

    Chinese President Xi Jinping recently made a trip to South Korea to further three objectives, according to Mel Gurtov. Given these three objectives, Gurtov analyzes and discusses their implications. More broadly, he also analyzes the implications of President Xi Jinping’s trip in general.

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