Some liberals claim that Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jimmy Carter, has always put human rights above engagement with Communist countries and never engaged in transfers of technology.
Don't believe them!
As a candidate in 1976, Jimmy Carter criticized Gerald Ford for continuing Nixon's policy of Realpolitik with China at the expense of human rights. But once ensconced in the White House, Carter downgraded our relations with Taiwan and restored formal diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China in 1978.
It was also Carter who granted MFN trade status to China for the first time and invited Deng Xiaoping to visit the United States. Trade above human rights.
In 1979, President Carter and Premier Deng Xiaoping signed the U.S.-China Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology (S&T Agreement). Since this agreement was executed, researchers in both countries have officially collaborated in work involving fisheries, earth and atmospheric sciences, physics, satellites, communications, chemistry, energy technologies, agriculture, geology, health and disaster mitigation.
The willingness of the United States to develop a military relationship with the PRC is founded on the
assessment that the United States and the PRC share important parallel interests, both globally and regionally. Foremost among these is a common security concern--the growing threat posed by the Soviet Union. Thus, an objective of U.S. policy is to build an enduring military relationship with the PRC which would support China's national development and maintain China as a force for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific Region and the World. ( http://www.ewross.com/US-China_Military_Relations.pdf)
"The development of U.S.-PRC military relations began soon after the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China on January 1, 1979. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown's visit to Beijing in January 1980 opened a dialogue between the military establishments of the two countries. The evolution of U.S. policy with regard to a military relationship with the PRC was reflected in the announcement in 1981 that the United States would consider the sale, on a case-by-case basis, of defensive weapons and equipment to the PRC."
President Carter's National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Defence Secretary Harold Brown (especially Brzezinski) did not share the concerns of Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, who was concerned that the US "steer a balanced course" and show no favouritism to either the Soviet Union or PRC. According to Vance, prior to normalisation, both Brzezinski and Brown saw various "security enhancements" (the exchange of military attachés, TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER to the PRC, third-country sales of military equipment to China, and other forms of cooperation) as likely to caution rather than provoke Moscow. As Soviet advances in the Third World continued, Brzezinski argued to President Carter that "the Chinese relationship is useful in showing the Soviets that their assertiveness is counterproductive and not cost-free." - Citations from Brzezinski's memo of 5 October 1979 to President Carter, as cited by Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski, "Power and Principle", p. 566.
As John K. Cooley reminds us on page 51 in his book "Unholy wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism" published in 2000, transfer of missile and satellite technology was on the Sino-American agenda even before Reagan was elected:
"Carter's taciturn Secretary of Defense, Harold Brown, was a sober, scholarly physicist by profession. He continued the tradition of near silence about political and military cooperation with China during his trip to Beijing to enlist the Asian giant in the Afghan jihad on January 4 to 13, 1980.
As Brown discovered in Beijing, both the Chinese and American sides had done their preliminary homework well. This pleased Harold Brown, whose unflamboyant, but incisive manner combined the zeal of Zbigniew Brzezinski with outward mildness of Jimmy Carter. Brown was much less of a Lone Ranger than Brzezinski. Brown liked to rely on other people's expertise and homework, and to avoid the limelight. On his January 1980 voyage to the Middle Kingdom, Brown took with him a high-powered team of administration experts. These included a leading Cold War expert of the Vietnam era, Robert Komer. There were also Asia veterans and arms controls experts such as George Seignious, who held the first-ever formal American discussion on arms matters with China's vice foreign minister, Zhang Wengin.
At the time, Deng Xiaoping, very much a man of power and vision and an architect of China's hesitant, but inexorable entry into the capitalist world, was vice premier to Premier Hua Guofeng. After four days of talks with Deng, Foreign Minister Huang Hua and intelligence officials, Harold Brown emerged at a news conference. He confined himself to banal generalities, giving nothing away about China's decision to join the jihad. He had, he said, "found a growing convergence of views between our two governments on the outrageous and brutal invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union." Each side "would take appropriate steps on its own" to counter the invasion. Brown refused to spell out what those "steps" were. He did acknowledge that while US arms sales to China were not discussed, "TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER" DEFINITELY WAS."
As Jacob Weinsberg has observed when it comes to Democrats and Republicans and their relationships with China, "In politics, the yang predominates. In power, the yin reasserts itself."