International Incidents

exhibit section showing artifacts and photos


The bond between the U.S. and China has rarely been very strong ... resentment of American power in Asia, on the other hand, is deeply rooted. Even when China wants U.S. technology and reasonably good relations between the two countries, the Communist government reacts with hostility if its motives and methods are questioned.

Jump to one of the following subjects or scroll down to view all sections:



photo of Clinton
In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton relaxed many barriers to the sale of high-tech components to China. Scandals erupted when investigations revealed that thousands of Chinese dollars had been funneled to Clinton and the Democratic Party, allegedly in exchange for favorable trade policies toward China. Several Chinese Americans later admitted that funds received from various Chinese corporations were donated to either Clinton's re-election campaign or to his legal defense fund.



photo of Lee and Cox report

In the mid-1990s, nuclear experts made suspicious comparisons between new Chinese weapons and America's most advanced warheads. FBI investigators determined that U.S. secrets had been stolen from the Los Alamos National Laboratory during the 1980s. A lab physicist was arrested.
Taiwan-born physicist Wen Ho Lee, a naturalized U.S. citizen, had transferred top secret nuclear codes from the lab to his own home computer, allegedly as a safeguard against a computer crash, and then threw the tapes away. He pleaded guilty to one felony count of mishandling classified information, and was sentenced to time already served.

The Cox Report - written by House Select Committee on Technology Transfers to China - determined that the Chinese Communists have obtained secrets involving every nuclear weapon in the American arsenal.



photo of spy plane and Colin Powell

The U.S. had been monitoring China's military buildup, that is intended to intimidate Taiwan against pursuing independence. In April 2001, a mid-air collision high over the South China Sea crippled an American reconnaissance plane and destroyed a Chinese fighter plane and its pilot. After the Chinese jet struck the U.S. surveillance plane, the American pilot made an emergency landing on the Chinese island of Hainan, sparking an international stand-off.

Presidents George W. Bush and Jiang Zemin chose diplomacy over military alternatives or trade sanctions, after U.S. officials expressed sufficient regret over the incident and acknowledged entering Chinese airspace without permission. China accepted this resolution that did not assume U.S. responsibility for the accident. After 11 days the 24 crew members were released, but the crippled spy plane remained on the island.


You are currently exploring "The Political Evolution of China"
choose a sub-section below to learn more

Highlights of the Exhibit






return to main exhibits page
return to hoover library home page