The United States and China

The First Steps Toward Reestablishing Relations
Changing Relations
 The late 1960s and 1970s saw a
reordering of the world power
 Détente was the new view of the
major powers.
 The period saw the weakening of
the bipolar power structure with
the rise of China, Japan and
Western Europe as economic and
military powers.
U.S. – China Relations
 The United States saw the
PRC as totally illegitimate
and continued to support
Nationalists on Taiwan.
 China saw this as
American imperialism.
 U.S. opposed PRC
admission to the United
Widening Feud
 During the 1950s, the Soviets and
other communist nations
supported and traded with China.
 Like the US itself, the Americans
pressured its allies and other
nations not to recognize the PRC or
allow UN membership.
 In 1964, the French broke ranks and
gave diplomatic recognition to
Sino-Soviet Split
 During the 1960s, national
interests trumped “socialist
solidarity” as the relations
between the USSR and PRC
 Split grew into open conflict and
near war by the end of the 1960s.
 American gov’t saw an
opportunity to use the split to
the advantage of the United
First Steps
 In the early 1970s subtle
overtures between the US and
the PRC began to develop.
 President Nixon began to refer
to the nation as the “People’s
Republic of China,” not “Red
China” or “Communist China”
as he and previous presidents
had done.
Ping Pong Diplomacy
 Chinese welcomed the change in
tone from the US.
 China invited the US table tennis
team to China to participate in
 Nixon relaxed the trade embargo
with China.
 Sec. of State Henry Kissinger took
secret trip to China in July, 1971 to set
groundwork for future meetings.
Nixon Goes to China
 In Feb. 1972, Nixon made a two-
week-long state visit to China.
 Shook the hand of Premier Zhou
 Cameras and journalist followed
Nixon’s visit and publicized it to the
 First time many had seen the closed
Why Nixon?
 Nixon had strong anti-
communist credentials.
 Only someone from his
background could pull off
such a move.
 Democrats had a bad rap
when it came to dealing
with communism – lost
China and Korea.
Benefit to China
 Counter the growing Soviet threat.
 Soviets had increased their troop
presence on the Chinese border.
 China wanted to avoid war with
either or both (US and USSR)
 China wanted to gain entry to the
 China wanted to gain trade
Benefit to U.S.
 New balance of power –
relationship with China
could counter Soviet Union.
 Nixon and Kissinger saw a
new multi-polar world that
the US could deal with
 US saw opportunities for
trade in China’s huge market.
Problem of Taiwan
 Problem of Taiwan continued
to linger over the opening of
US and Chinese talks; US said
Taiwan gov’t was only
legitimate gov’t of China.
 US moderated approach
calling for “Two Chinas”
 Both PRC and Rep. of China
(Taiwan) opposed this plan.
Talks Begin
 China insisted that talk of
Taiwan be on the table; US
 US ended objection to the
PRC joining the UN; it did so
in October 1971.
 PRC took Taiwan’s seat on the
Security Council.
Shanghai Communiqué
 Announcement made by
Kissinger and Zhou:
 There was one China and Taiwan
was a part of it.
 The two gov’t’s were to find a
peaceful settlement to their
 US would remove forces from
 China would not try to retake
Taiwan by force.
 Full relations were not achieved until 1979.
 Why? – Taiwan was still and issue as well as issues of
leadership in China and US.
 Watergate and its aftermath lessened the focus of the
US gov’t.
 Mao and Zhou die in 1976, causing leadership struggle.
 Not until 1978 do negotiations between US Pres. Jimmy
Carter and new Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping do formal
relation become a reality.
Full Relations
 Full relations between US and PRC
achieved in Jan. 1979.
 US ended its official ties with
Taiwan (US continued trade and
arms sales to the Taiwanese)
 Taiwan denounced the move, but
continued strong trade links with
the US.
 Opening of the trade relationship between the US and
the PRC would have major consequences for the world
 Other nations followed the US and recognized the
 Japan and China normalized relations, leading to
major trade relationship and greater stability in East