China policy of the United States : with emphasis on the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations and the role of Taiwan

Date

1984

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Abstract

Since the end of World War II, United States policy toward China has fluctuated between idealism and reality. The idealism was expressed by the policy favoring the Nationalist government led by Chiang Kai-shek, which the American government expected to be a country of democracy and freedom conforming to the American tradition. The reality was revealed in the policy favoring recognition of the Chinese Communist regime led by Mao Tse-tung, even though it was seen as contradicting the American tradition and opposed to America's leadership of the free world. Consequently, United States China policy was deeply affected by domestic political fights between idealism and reality. These two factors resulted in the Eisenhower administration's policy of confrontation and isolation and the Nixon administration's policy of conciliation. This study examines the relationships between external and domestic affairs and the impact this interaction had on the making of their China policies by the Eisenhower and the Nixon administrations. Under study is the attempt of both Republican administrations to deal with the strategic realities of "China politics" in the light of domestic political forces as they were perceived by the central policy makers of the two administrations. Eisenhower followed the domestic trend as dominated by the conservative Republicans and accepted their participation in the decision-making process. While Nixon followed the emerging domestic demands for policy change toward Peking, he denied congressional participation in the process. Difference in the environment and in the personalities of the two administrations accounted for the different roads each president chose to advance his objectives. The United States and China experienced two wars (Korea and Vietnam) and two crises (in the Taiwan Straits) and Washington did not take advantage of the opportunities for peace arising from the 1954 Geneva Conference, the 1955 Bandung Conference, nor the Sino-American ambassadorial talks of 1955-1960. In December 1978, Washington recognized reality by granting de jure recognition to the Peking regime yet maintained its traditional ingredient of idealism, since Washington still maintains non-diplanatic relations with Nationalist China in Taiwan as an international legal entity, if not an independent country. The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, enacted by Congress following recognition of Peking, states that all international laws and statutes applicable to a country, state, organization or body shall also be applicable to Taiwan; it thus attests to the international personality of Taiwan. In the 1978 communique establishing diplomatic relations with Peking, Whshington accepted the principle held by both Peking and Taipei that Taiwan is a part of China, yet the United States made one proviso as a condition of recognition: that any change of the relationship between Peking and Taiwan must be peaceful. Despite Peking's resentment, the American government stands by the Taiwan Relations Act to continue weapons sales to Taiwan to ensure its security. [...]

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Foreign policy

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