Nixon And China Essay

4031 words - 17 pages

Nixon and the U.S. Rapprochement with the People’s Republic of China

When Nixon began his presidency, the relations between the United States and China had been fraught ever since Mao Zedong’s Communist Party achieved power and established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Less than a year later in 1950, the Korean War, in which American troops died at the hands of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, further exacerbated the situation. The next twenty years were characterized by American opposition to UN membership for Mainland China, three crises between the two nations in the Taiwan Straits, threats of nuclear attack, and the fighting of a proxy war in Vietnam. But the two ...view middle of the document...

However, In spite of his public reputation as a one of the ultimate “Red baiters” of that time, there are indications that Nixon had been thinking of altering U.S. China policy much earlier than his presidency.
During the years when Nixon was the vice president of the U.S., he had a series of extensive tours in Asia. After his tours in 1953, Nixon wrote an internal report to the National Security Council stating that though the continuous diplomatic isolation against China was still very important, “in practical terms, strict economic blockade of China should be eliminated. Moreover, in the run-up to the Geneva Conference in 1954, Nixon reiterated the advantages of trade with the Chinese and further broadened his argument to say that China was “too important” to the United States to be ignored or isolated, even though the Congressional sentiment at that time opposed the idea of American delegates meeting with delegates from the PRC. During Nixon’s “wilderness years” in the 1960s, the period during which Nixon was out of office, his belief of China as a key player in Asia that should be reckoned with sooner rather than later developed significantly. His encounters with many European leaders, especially French President Charles de Gaulle and ex-Western German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1963 and 1967 confirmed his viewpoint that the U.S. should tilt its policy towards Red China quicker. Both European leaders argued that China could work as a counterbalance to the Soviet Union. If the U.S. waited too long, the communist nation might grow so powerful in the future that the U.S. would lose the initiative and be compelled to talk.
The clearest public declaration of Nixon’s China strategy was in his article, “Asia After Vietnam,” that was published by Foreign Affairs in 1967. In that article, he indicated that the U.S. had been focusing too much on Vietnam, ignoring the most important country and immediate threat in Asia: China. He admitted the capabilities of the Chinese and stated that China will be strengthened by “significant deliverable nuclear capability” in three to five years and Beijing may “scatter its weapon among ‘liberation’ forces anywhere in the world. He therefore urged to pull China back to the international society by stating that: “We simply can’t afford to leave China forever outside the family of nations… there’s no place in this small planet for a billion of its potentially most able people to live in angry isolation.” Though Nixon claimed that the U.S. should not be open to China until the Chinese leaders showed the incentive to talk, it was clear that he wanted to seek a more friendly relation with the PRC to counter the Soviet Union, shift public attention away from the Vietnam War, as well as curb the potential danger of a rising China.
In his presidential election campaign in 1968, Nixon often repeated his key passages, sending messages to the public. Nixon also altered his position more towards the...

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