Jeremy Luedi is the editor of True North Far East, a blog chronicling Sino-Canadian relations.

His writing has been featured in Business Insider, Courrier International, FACTA Magazine, The Japan Times, The Diplomat and Asia Times, among others.


Personal Politics: Individual Rapport and Dialogue during Sino-American Rapprochement

The relationship between the Peoples Republic of China and the United States of America is one of, if not the defining feature of 21st century international relations and economic affairs. Both nations have become inexorably linked, however this state of affairs is a recent and evolving one. While great progress and development have been achieved by the union of American capital and Chinese industry, tensions continue to periodically emerge as economic necessity confronts ideological and strategic differences. Sino-American relations have changed greatly since the 1970s, when China opened to the West.

This new beginning however, was not preordained, rather it was the result of diplomatic reconciliation spanning several years. Yet it was the result of the coming together of two leaders; Richard M. Nixon and Mao Zedong, rather than the convergence of two nations. These two men, along with their deputies Henry Kissinger and Zhou Enlai, brought about this reversal in Sino-American relations, often facing institutional and domestic resistance. The personal rapport developed between Mao, Nixon, Kissinger and Zhou, was the key driving force behind reconciliation. The interpersonal connections which these leaders established massively aided the process of diplomatic normalization, yet great differences remained between the People's Republic and the U.S. The presence, and later absence of these individuals, was reflected in the state of relations between these former Cold War rivals.

The Ghosts of the Cultural Revolution & Sino-Russian Tension

The change in Sino-American relations which began in the late 1960s, was due to Beijing's re-assessment of the contemporary geo-political situation, as well as the new government in Washington. The Peoples' Republic of China (PRC), and specifically Mao, became increasingly interested in improving relations with the United States, due to both domestic and international tensions in East Asia. Mao began to emphasize Sino-American relations in 1968-69, in large part due to the internal turmoil caused by the Cultural Revolution during the 1960s. Although having re-established a commanding influence over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Mao's prestige and reputation had been severely tarnished by the violent excesses of the Cultural Revolution.1 Whilst the scope and potency of the Cultural Revolution was on the decrease in 1968-69, Mao needed to showcase his foreign policy expertise in order to bolster lagging domestic support.2

Mao was also motivated by various international concerns, most pressing of these being Sino-Soviet tensions.3 Relations between the PRC and the Soviet Union had been progressively worsening since the mid 1950s. China4 and the USSR disagreed over the direction and form which international communism should take, with each vying for global leadership.5 This discord eventually led to the Sino-Soviet split, and increasing levels of hostility between both countries. This rancour culminated in the Sino-Soviet Border Crisis of 1969. Border skirmishes erupted between the PRC and USSR following Mao's order reasserting sovereignty over Zhenbao Island; a small contested isle, vexingly located on the Sino-Soviet demarcation line in the Ussuri river.6

This assertion of Chinese ownership provoked an armed retaliation from the Soviet Union. Despite hundreds of deaths and Soviet blustering threatening nuclear retaliation, the crisis did not escalate, however; it did highlight the need for China to develop relations with other major powers.7 Mao saw the re-opening of negotiations with the United States as part of “a tit-for-tat struggle against the U.S. and USSR” with ambassadorial talks to be resumed “when the timing [was] proper.”8

Soviet militancy towards China, combined with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, heavily influenced Mao's actions in seeking ties with the United States9 however, Mao's personal philosophy and control over foreign affairs were the main causes behind his overtures towards the U.S. Mao began to issue directives, ordering a reversal of previous foreign policy goals. This resulted in the bizarre situation of Chairman Mao rescinding the use of Mao Zedong Thought (Maoism) in foreign relations in 1968, in order to accommodate the new direction which he wished to take.10 In spite of the fact the Mao set the parameters for Chinese policies, he often ended up in conflict with himself (in the form of official Maoist policy), as his whims and personal idiosyncrasies continually redefined China's position vis-à-vis the United States.11

The Nixon Doctrine & Détente

Similarly, Richard Nixon's interest in re-establishing relations with the PRC ran counter to official American policy, however his personal gravitas and vision, was as with Mao in China, the main driving force behind America's conciliatory gestures. Upon assuming the Presidency in 1968, Nixon sought to redefine U.S. foreign policy. International relations were Nixon's passion and forte,12 and his presidency saw the implementation of 'détente'. With détente Nixon wished to move from the old bi-polar world system, towards an “era of negotiation,” with a multilateral global order headed by the USA, USSR, PRC, Japan and Europe.13

This combined with the Nixon Doctrine, which advocated against the United States becoming heavily embroiled in any future foreign war, à la Vietnam,14 was in stark contrast to the official U.S. policy of interventionism in the name of communist containment.15 As Mao changed his personal outlook on fighting imperialist capitalist inroads and influence in Asia (i.e. American hegemony),16 so too did Washington qualify its position on communism. Kissinger signalled this new era of pragmatism by stating that “[The United States does] not deal with communism in the abstract, but with specific communist states on the basis of their specific actions, not as an abstract crusade.”17

The Nixon administration divergence from official American policy, rankled many in Washington, resulting in Nixon and Henry Kissinger centralizing dealings with China in the executive branch.18 Tensions between the White House and State Department came to define American actions on China, with Kissinger styling himself “as an apostle of Sino-American rapprochement, fighting a reactionary State Department,”19 and Nixon complaining to Zhou Enlai that his “State Department leaks like a sieve.”20
Similarly, while Mao's fluid appraisal of Sino-American relations was beneficial for the success of the Nixon-Mao meeting in 1972, the bureaucracy of the PRC was nowhere as fleet of foot, resulting in an atmosphere of paradox. Mao shared Nixon's frustration and distrust of bureaucrats, as witnessed by Mao's advice to Marshals Zhang and Wang that they should“study foreign languages so that [they] can avoid being deceived by those lords and masters in the Foreign Ministry.”21 Mao's personal leadership led the PRC to seek rapprochement, yet this went against official CCP policy, with “Chinese leaders [finding] it an arduous and awkward task [explaining] to the people why the PRC was cooperating with the irredeemably evil Americans.”22

This disconnect between the leaders involved and the views of their respective nations is exemplified by Mao's friendly advice to Kissinger in 1971, that “in order to rally domestic support, it's advisable for China and the United States to denounce each other now and then.”23 The internal struggles in both countries, caused the top leaders to take control of policy decisions and move to the fore, adding their own personal touches to the process.24

Powerful Personalities

Sino-American rapprochement was characterized by strong personalities, with leaders on both sides attempting to establish meaningful and genuine connections, whilst attempting to navigate official rhetoric and distrust. In 1969 the United States began to make overtures towards the Chinese, expressing its wish for improved relations.25 The Chinese were wary of American probing and viewed it as merely “part of the United States' duplicitous politics of combing aggression with negotiations.”26 The Chinese perception of America was not unfounded for U.S. support of Taiwan, its deployment of strategic nuclear weapons in Asia, as well as its continuing presence in Vietnam, did nothing to quell Chinese fears.27   
The Chinese at first did not take Nixon/Kissinger's overtures seriously for “American policy towards China was not unambiguous, while holding an olive branch to Beijing in one hand, Washington simultaneously made moves which were threatening to China.”28 This criticism of the U.S. was somewhat hypocritical, for Mao openly embraced a 'theory of contradiction,' in order to defeat his enemies.29 The Chinese were wary, for their international isolation had resulted in self-absorption and a lack of global insight.

Both Mao and Zhou knew very little about the U.S. and relied on Foreign Ministry officials.30 Similarly, early American foreign policy was characterized by fearful confusion and ignorance.31 The American's had little to no contact with the Chinese aside from Mao and Zhou, resulting in the U.S. not having any other viable choices of interlocutors. Nixon and Kissinger spoke upon this point, in discussing the position the U.S. would be in if Mao was ousted:

Nixon: “You could have been a group of younger officers that, said to hell with them, we'll throw them out”

Kissinger: “Yes, and if it has we wouldn't know any of them.”32

Fashion Shows and Tackling Diplomats

In July 1969, Kissinger suggested the U.S. make conciliatory gestures without waiting for a Chinese response. Nixon gave permission for American scholars and doctors to travel to China, as well as allowing U.S. companies to sell to China via their foreign subsidiaries.33 Additionally, due to the lack of official relations, Nixon and Kissinger made use of intermediary nations (Rumania, Pakistan, Poland) in order to pass messages to the PRC. In October, Nixon and Kissinger ordered U.S. ambassador to Poland, Walter Stoessel, to reopen ambassadorial talks with China.34 

After three months of fruitless efforts, Stoessel finally managed to corner the Chinese delegation at a Yugoslavian fashion show in Warsaw.35 Amusingly, having not been briefed to deal with the Americans, the Chinese delegation promptly fled. Stoessel pursued them and managed to tackle the Chinese interpreter, breathlessly informing him that 'Nixon wants to talk.'36 Despite this reluctance to engage, “the Chinese government, and in the end that meant Mao, was paying attention to U.S. signals.”37 Stoessel's encounter prompted a swift response from both Mao and Zhou, because it allowed them to engage with the U.S, while at the same time being able to support their narrative of the Americans acting as supplicants.38

The Question of Taiwan

Once both sides had agreed to dialogue, America and the PRC began exchanging messages in secret via various intermediaries. Nixon and Kissinger took a controlling role over talks, and Zhou Enlai became the main Chinese voice. From the onset Zhou clearly stated that the main issue behind Sino-American tensions was the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan).39 Mao wanted America to withdraw from Taiwan, otherwise other matters could not be discussed, nor tensions defused. Throughout 1969 and 1970, Zhou also repeatedly pushed for the termination of all ties with Taiwan, the U.S./ROC Mutual Security Treaty and American recognition of the ROC.40           

This insistence on Taiwan was a matter of domestic pride, with the PRC viewing Taiwan as an internal issue. Taiwan also represented China's concern over the threat of encirclement. Zhou seemed to acknowledge Taiwan's awkward geo-political position when he suggested to Nixon that “it would be good if the liberation of Taiwan could be realized in your next term of office...of course that's our internal affair.”41 Zhou also stressed China's concern with American power and influence in South Korea and troops in Vietnam (and later Cambodia and Laos.)42 Specifically Zhou emphasized the spectre of a resurgent militaristic Japan, due to its rapid economic growth,43 as well as Japanese influence in Taiwan.44

In order to placate the Chinese, Kissinger and Nixon made explicit statements on key foreign relations issues, relaying these via Pakistan and Rumania. In response to China's fear of potential American aggression / cooperation with the USSR against the PRC, Nixon clearly stated that the U.S. would not take sides in a Sino-Soviet conflict.45 Of greater significance, however, were Nixon's remarks concerning Taiwan. In his talks with Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu and Pakistani president Yahya Khan, Nixon described Taiwan as “an internal problem to be resolved by the Chinese themselves in a peaceful way.”46 

Nixon was also the first American president to refer to mainland China as the People's Republic of China, as opposed to 'Red China' or 'Communist China.'47 These overtures appeased the Chinese, leading Mao and Zhou to trust in the authenticity of U.S. overtures. Consequently, Mao and Zhou implemented a strategy of using “friendship as a halter in advance of negotiations,”48 with both leaders voicing their wishes for direct contact.

Hints of a Visit

In April 1970, the U.S. invaded Cambodia, causing a brief setback in Sino-American relations, with the Chinese cancelling ambassadorial talks.49 This further concentrated the power of the White House, and increased the exclusion of the State Department secretary William Rogers from talks.50 Cambodia did not significantly alter Sino-American relations and by December 1970 both parties had resumed talks. Zhou continued to stress the issue of Taiwan, yet no longer attached any preconditions to any potential negotiations.

On December 13th 1970, Zhou Enlai first broached the subject of a visit, stating that if the Nixon administration was willing to provide solutions on Taiwan, Beijing would be willing to receive an American envoy.51 Zhou suggested that “Nixon could even come to Beijing, not just a special envoy, he was able to go to Belgrade and Bucharest, so why would he not be able to come to Beijing?”52 This offer was in stark contrast to Zhou's prior pessimism only eighteen months earlier, in which he predicted that the United States would “not easily renounce their hostile policy towards us.”53

During this time Mao also made his own efforts to demonstrate his interest in meeting with the Americans. Mao invited renowned journalist, Edgar Snow, best known for his work covering the Chinese Communists in the 1930s, to take part in the celebrations in Tienanmen Square.54 Snow later recounted that Mao spoke to him, stating that “he [Mao] would be happy to meet Nixon, either as president or a tourist.”55

Sleeping Pills & Ping-Pong Players

The United States did not immediately notice Mao's hints, and in 1971 he made more explicit gestures. In April 1971, Mao had the state-run newspaper People's Daily run an effusive piece entitled 'A Salute to the Heroic American People,' which praised the workers of America, the anti-war movement, and America's revolutionary potential.56 The same month, in a surprise move, Mao invited the American ping pong team to China.57 Mao's erratic decision-making concerning this move offers an insight into his deteriorating health, as well as an excellent example of the influence that personal whims exerted during Sino-American rapprochement.   

Initially Mao was unsure as to whether he should send the Chinese team to the championship in Japan. His eventual decision to let the Chinese team attend, faced opposition from within the State Physical Culture & Sports Commission, many of whose administrators were opponents of rapprochement.58 Mao sent the team, but bizarrely instructed the team to “act accordingly...and be prepared to be assassinated.”59 Such instructions were symptomatic of Mao's mental health during the early 1970s. Following Mao's death, one of his interpreters Zhang Hanzhi, commented that during the 1970s Mao changed, becoming more prejudiced and paranoid.60  

 Similarly, Mao's decision to allow the American team to visit China, was the result of a series of intensely personal and erratic events. For years Mao had been reliant on sleeping pills, and following dinner one evening, with the pills taking effect, he slumped over the dinner table, passing out in his food. What followed was the extent of high level PRC decision-making concerning the sports trip:

Mao (mumbling): “Invite...the American team to visit China.”

Mao's Nurse: “Does your word count after taking pills?”

Mao (semi-conscious, gesticulating wildly):

“Yes, it counts, every word counts. Act promptly or it will be too late!”61

Dr. Kissinger I Presume...

The following month, in May 1971, Zhou Enlai formally invited Henry Kissinger to China. Kissinger and Nixon insisted that the trip be kept secret, so as to garner greater political leverage by announcing the trip at a more politically advantageous time.62 In July 1971, Kissinger made a secret trip to China. He accomplished this by feigning illness during his trip to Pakistan, and then hustling aboard a jet to China.63 Kissinger's trip, was the product of intense work and secrecy and neither Nixon nor Kissinger informed the State Department and no State Department staff were present on the trip. Nixon and Kissinger also conspired against Rogers, and saw to it that he was excluded from all talks with Mao.64

Interestingly, the visits were also a source of some discord between Nixon and Kissinger, as the former was hesitant to send the latter to China. Nixon wanted to monopolize credit and media exposure for himself over China, and therefore was somewhat anxious to let Kissinger go first.65 Despite this, both men managed to keep the trip a total secret, and the world was stunned upon Nixon's announcement of Kissinger's trip and his plans for his own.

The news of the trip was so outlandish, that any prior suggestion of such an endeavour was instantly dismissed. The level of global incredulity concerning such a visit is best exemplified, in the story of an American reporter in Pakistan during Kissinger's stay in the country.66 Said reporter happened to be at the very airport (he was waiting to pick up his mother) which Kissinger had to chosen to leave from. Upon seeing some busied commotion on the runway, he asked a nearby policeman what was going on. The policeman nonchalantly remarked that that was Mr. Kissinger on his way to China. The reporter rushed to the phone to call his paper, only to be dismissed as intoxicated by his editor.67

Personal Diplomacy: Nixon in China

As a result of Kissinger's and Zhou's meetings, Richard Nixon made history, when on February 21st 1972, he shook hands with Mao Zedong in Beijing. Nixon's visit occurred in part due to greater strategic interests, however “it took individuals, four men in this case to make it happen.”68 During Nixon's visit, “personal diplomacy seemed to work well and carry the day,”69 with all involved making efforts to foster personal relationships. Both Nixon and Kissinger made extra efforts to ingratiate themselves with their Chinese hosts, by practising their chopstick skills and by reading books on China for background information, as well as some of Mao's poetry.70  

Upon meeting Mao, Nixon declared that it was most refreshing to talk directly and honestly with Mao and Zhou. Nixon also stressed both his and Mao's humble beginnings.71 While Nixon and Mao enjoyed a pleasant rapport, Kissinger and Zhou Enlai developed a closer connection, as both found the other to have similar approaches to foreign relations. Kissinger described Zhou as “one of the two or three most impressive men I have ever met,”72 and characterized his Chinese counterpart as urbane, infinitely patient and highly talented.73 The amiable nature of meeting, and therefore the summits overall success can be attributed to the “style, educational background and personalities of the negotiators.”74

Nixon's visit and the resulting Shanghai Communiqué, which outlined bilateral opposition to hegemony in Asia, endorsed the One China policy and expressed hopes for socio-economic ties, was seen by many to be auspicious event.75 Nixon returned to great praise, with vice-president Spiro Agnew proclaiming that “because of your [Nixon's] visit, the Chinese and American people stand further removed from the kind of confrontation that the world has feared for many years. And we the American people are tremendously grateful for that effort on your part.”76 While relations may have improved, there never really existed any great threat of direct Sino-American conflict.

Nixon himself brushed off such praise, for he realized that decades of animosity could not be overcome in a single week.77 Mao also stated that talks were necessary, however questioned “why it is that we must be able to reach results?”78 The success of rapprochement was based upon the strong personal engagement and cordial relationships between the leaders involved, however the Shanghai Communiqué did not specify any timetable concerning the full normalization of relations.79 Despite Nixon's abrupt departure from office in 1974, it was Nixon, not President Ford who was invited to Beijing in 1976 by Mao.80 Following Zhou and Mao's deaths in 1976, there emerged a period “in which the projected normalization of diplomatic ties between the two powers was allowed to languish.”81

Leaders Cordial, States Hidebound

February 1972 opened a new phase in Sino-American relations, however it little to rectify the problems of the previous era, with many obstacles and contradictions marring trans-pacific ties. By the late 1970s, the question was “how long China and the U.S. would be able to tolerate the strain of conducting relations in two modes concurrently.”82 This disjuncture between words and accomplishments, led to “an almost surreal atmosphere, an air of paradox.”83 Whilst the United States had agreed to follow a One China policy, American military and economic links with Taiwan remained strong throughout the 1970s. U.S. F-4 fighter squadrons were sent to Taiwan in 1976, and the ROC later acquired deals to build new F-5 jets from the U.S.84  

Conversely, the U.S. remained hesitant to sell arms to the Chinese, due in part to China's invasion of Vietnam in 1979, and Beijing's stiff opposition to U.S. led arms control measures.85 It was only in 1981 that Congress finally allowed the sale of arms to the PRC.86 The ROC was also permitted to open new consulates in the United States during the 1970s,in part due to the President Ford's increased awareness of Taiwan, following the collapse of U.S. backed regimes in Indochina.87 America's position over Taiwan varied greatly as each new president came into office. Whereas Jimmy Carter formally established full relations with the PRC in 1979, a year later Ronald Reagan sought to re-adopt a Two China policy, and refused to acknowledge neither the 1978 normalization agreement nor 1972 Shanghai Communiqué.88

This caused Deng Xiaoping to end his 'tilt towards the U.S.',89 and saw a hardening of relations, with the PRC using culture as a weapon. Beijing made several attempts to cut the number of exchanges in the 1980s, such as cancelling the visit of a Harvard delegation, in response to an unfavourable book written by the dean of Chinese studies.90 Chinese university textbooks also retained their ideological slant, with political science textbooks as late as 1983 claiming that bourgeois political parties existed merely to perpetuate class rule, and that all major Western leaders were the pawns of monopolistic finance groups.91

The Taiwan Problem Remains

This strange situation is best exemplified by the continued pariah existence of Taiwan, and American economic relations with the ROC and PRC. U.S.-PRC trade numbers fluctuated wildly as a result of these constant changes in American foreign strategy. In 1971 prior to Nixon's trip, annual U.S.-PRC trade amounted to only $5 million dollars. By 1974 it had jumped to $930 million, yet by 1976 with Nixon out of office and Mao and Zhou dead, trade fell to $336 million.92 America continued to heavily favour trade with Taiwan throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with bilateral trade totalling $4.8 billion in 1978 (compared to $2.3 billion with the PRC in 1979).93

Even though U.S.-PRC trade numbers doubled to $4.6 billion in 1980,94 U.S.-ROC trade had risen to $11.6 billion.95 This uneven distribution of American investment was the result of U.S. fears concerning the PRC, as well as vestiges of antagonistic bureaucratic legislation. Although the Shanghai Communiqué espoused the promotion of economic ties between the signatories, issues of trade and finance had been sidelined and ignored during talks, due in part to Kissinger's boredom with the subject,96 and the meeting's overall emphasis on international relations and diplomacy. U.S. investors worried about their investments in Taiwan in the eventuality of a PRC takeover. 

Trade and Economic Barriers Prove Stubborn

This fact combined with a general ignorance of the mainland and China's lack of international financial ratings and standards, dissuaded many investors.97 Many American businesses continued to prefer Taiwan, prompting Jimmy Carter in 1979 to gather Fortune 500 CEOs at the White House in a failed attempt to convince them to increase trade with China.98 This dour assessment of business potential with China was echoed by Forbes Magazine which wrote in the same year that “American businessmen would be wise not to expect too much soon from trade with China.”99

This weak appraisal was due less to ideological concerns, but rather because of the substantial barriers facing bilateral trade. In 1977 the PRC began to discuss the issue of $76 million dollars of Chinese assets frozen in 1950, following Chinese entry into the Korean War.100 This discussion later included the resolution of the $196 million dollars of lost U.S. property following the 1949 CCP victory.101 This lingering problem resulted in Chinese banks not being able to set up direct links with their American counterparts.102 This issue also prevented direct shipping, direct airline connections by state flagship enterprises, and Chinese trade exhibitions could not enter the U.S.103

In comparison Taiwan received tariff reductions from the U.S., ready access to insurance from the Overseas Private Investment Company (OPIC), as well as nuclear fuel.104 Taiwan also benefited from investment finance from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, however China only acquired similar concessions in 1984.105 At the same time Taiwan enjoyed Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status, which China only tentatively received in 1980.106

This delay was due at first to the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 which denied MFN status to Communist countries, and later to the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which denied MFN status to nations which prevented its citizens from emigrating.107 China's MFN status continues to be subject to annual review, with George H.W. Bush almost invoking the amendment in 1991,108 with the PRC's MFN status only being finalized by Bill Clinton in December 2000.109

Forty years after China's opening to the West, there remain many issues of mutual concern and tension, which highlights the temporary, personal and delicate nature of the 1972 Sino-American detente. Sino-American relations developed, in large part due to the personal chemistry enjoyed by Nixon, Mao, Zhou and Kissinger, and their eventual departure from politics, eroded the only substantial connection between the PRC and U.S. In their absence, both nations realized that, perfunctory photogenic meetings aside, very little had changed.

The amiable relationship which existed between the leaders, belied far more fundamental, cultural, ideological and economic hurdles which had been overshadowed by the meetings. Talks between leaders created an illusion of greater international accord, when in reality any advances were the fruitful results of a harmonious mixture of personalities at the negotiation table.

Works Cited:

Bostdorff, Denise M., “The Evolution of a Diplomatic Surprise: Richard M. Nixon's Rhetoric on China, 1952 - July15, 1971.” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 5 (1) (Spring 2002): 31-56,

Burr, William, “'Casting a Shadow' Over Trade: The Problem of Private Claims and Blocked Assets in U.S.-China Relations, 1972–1975.” Diplomatic History 33 (04, 2009): 315-49,

Cohen, I. W., America's Response to China: A History of Sino-American Relations. New York: Colombia University Press, 2000.

Freeman, W. Charles Jr., “The Process of Rapprochement: Achievements and Problems.” In Sino-American Normalization and its Policy Implications., eds. T. Gene Hsiao, Michael Witunski. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1983.

Garson, Robert, The United States and China Since 1949: A Troubled Affair. Cranbury, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994.

Garver, W. J., China's Decision for Rapprochement with the United States, 1968-1971. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1982.

Holloway, K. Jerome, and H. Thomas Etzold, “America's Relations with China's Leaders: The 1920s to the 1970s.” In Aspects of Sino-American Relations Since 1784. New York: New Viewpoints, 1978.

Li, Jing, China's America: The Chinese View the United States, 1900-2000. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2011.

MacMillan, Margaret, Nixon in China. Toronto: Viking Canada, 2006.

Moorsteen, Richard Harris, and Morton Abramowitz, Remaking China Policy; U.S.-China Relations and Government Decision-making. Rand Corporation research study. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971.

Munteanu, Mircea, Romania and the Sino-American Rapprochement, 1969-1971: “New Evidence from the Bucharest Archives.” Cold War International History Project Bulletin, 16 (2008): 403-46,

Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library, “Nixon, Kissinger and 'The Death of Mao': Telcon between Henry Kissinger and the President, September 21st 1971, 11:00pm,” Nixon in China – December 9th 2010 Material Release, (accessed July 27th 2011).

Stutter, G. R., The China Quandary: Domestic Determinants of U.S.-China Policy, 1972-1982. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1983.

Warner, Geoffrey, “Nixon, Kissinger and the Rapprochement with China, 1969–1972.” International Affairs 83 (4, 2007): 763-81,

Xia, Yafeng. Negotiating with the Enemy: U.S.-China Talks During the Cold War 1949-1972. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2006.

Yang, Kuisong, and Xia, Yafeng, “Vacillating Between Revolution and Détente: Mao's Changing Psyche and Policy Toward the United States,” 1969–1976. Diplomatic History 34 (2, 2010): 395-423,


1Yafeng Xia, Negotiating with the Enemy: U.S.-China Talks During the Cold War 1949-1972 (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2006), 137-138.

2Jing Li, China's America: The Chinese View America 1900-2000 (Albany: New York State University Press, 2011), 115.

3Lorenz Lüthi, “Chinese Foreign Policy 1960-1979,” in The Cold War in East Asia 1945-1991, ed. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Cold War International History Project Series (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011), 161.

4*Any subsequent mention of “China” is to be read as a reference to the People's Republic of China*

5Odd Arne Westad, “Struggles for Modernity: The Golden Years of the Sino-Soviet Alliance,” in The Cold War in East Asia 1945-1991, ed. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Cold War International History Project Series (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011), 56.

6Lüthi, 161.

7Xia, 137-138.

8Xia, 138.

9Xia, 137.

10Lüthi, 161.

11Kuisong Yang & Yafeng Xia, “Vacillating Between Revolution and Détente: Mao's Changing Psyche and Policy Toward the United States 1969-1976,” Diplomatic History 34 (February 2010): 396.

12Denise M. Bostdorff, “The Evolution of a Diplomatic Surprise: Richard M. Nixon's Rhetoric on China 1952-July 15th 1971,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 5 (January 2002): 31.

13Xia, 135.

14John W. Garver, China's Decision for Rapprochement with the United States 1968-1971 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1982), 30.

15Bostdorff, 40.

16Yang & Xia, 396.

17Geoffrey Warner, “Nixon, Kissinger and the Rapprochement with China 1969-1972,” International Affairs 83 (April 2007): 769.

18Warner, 764.

19Ibid, 764.

20Ibid, 776.

21Yang & Xia, 411.

22Li, 93.

23Li. 117.

24Xia, 149.

25Margaret MacMillan, Nixon in China (Toronto: Viking Press Canada, 2006), 161-162.

26Mircea Munteanu, “Telegram May 13th 1969 From: Romanian Ambassador in Beijing Aurel Duma, To: Foreign Minister Corneliu Manescu – Subject: Regarding Conversations with Representatives of the PRC Ministries of Trade, Foreign Affairs and Defence,” in Cold War International History Project Bulletin 16 (2008):, (accessed July 18th 2011) 411.

27Garver, 32.

28Garver, 32.

29Yang & Xia, 410.

30MacMillan, 107.

31Jerome K. Holloway & Thomas H. Etzold, “America's Relations with China's Leaders: The 1920s to the 1970s,” in Aspects of Sino-American Relations Since 1784, ed. Thomas H. Etzold (New York: New Viewpoints, 1978,) 127.

32Richard Nixon Presidential Library, “Nixon, Kissinger and the 'Death of Mao': Personal Notes – Telcon between Henry Kissinger and the President, September 21st 1971, 11:00pm,” Nixon in China – December 9th 2010 Materials Release, (accessed July 22nd 2011).

33MacMillan, 161-162.

34Xia, 143.

35The Presidential Timeline Project, “Telegram From:American Embassy, Warsaw – To: Secretary of State, Washington D.C. Subject: Contact with Communist Chinese,” The Presidential Timeline of the Twentieth Century, (accessed July 20th 2011).

36 (accessed July 20th 2011).

37MacMillan, 163.

38Xia, 144-145.

39Mircea Munteanu, “Telegram June 3rd 1969 From: Aurel Duma, To: Corneliu Manescu – Subject: Concerning the Information passed to the PRC Foreign Ministry Regarding the Organization of the 10th Romanian Communist Party Congress and the Intention of Certain American Senators to Visit China,” in Cold War International History Project Bulletin 16 (2008):, (accessed July 18th 2011) 413.

40Richard Moorsteen & Morton Abramowitz, Remaking China Policy, U.S.-China Relations and Governmental Decision making (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1971), xxviii.

41Xia, 200.

42Xia, 137-138.

43Warner, 770.

44Moorsteen & Abramowitz, xxviii.

45Xia, 143.

46Xia, 150-151.


48Ibid, 226.

49Ibid, 149.

50Warner, 774.

51Mircea Munteanu, “Memorandum of Conversation between Romanian Deputy Premier Georghe Radulescu and Zhou Enlai,” in Cold War International History Project Bulletin 16 (2008):, (accessed July 18th 2011) 439-440.

52Munteanu, “December 13th 1970 – Memorandum,” 441.

53Munteanu, “June 3rd 1969 Telegram,” 413.

54Xia, 150-151.

55Xia, 150-151.

56Li, 116.

57Xia, 153.

58Xia, 153.

59Xia, 153.

60MacMillan, 94.

61Yang & Xia, 405.

62MacMillan, 223.

63 Xia, 135.

64Warner, 775.

65MacMillan, 182.

66MacMillan, 188.

67Ibid, 188.

68Ibid, 329.

69Xia, 161.

70Xia, 223-224.

71MacMillan, 78.

72MacMillan, 44.

73Xia, 223.

74Xia, 212.

75Holloway & Etzold 152-53.

76Holloway & Etzold, 155.

77Holloway & Etzold, 149.

78Xia, 197.

79Xia, 209.

80Holloway & Etzold, 157.

81Yang & Xia, 395.

82Holloway & Etzold, 158.

83Holloway & Etzold, 150.

84Holloway & Etzold, 154.

85Charles W. Freeman Jr., “The Process of Rapprochement: Achievements and Problems,” in Sino-American Normalization and its Policy Implications, eds. T. Gene Hsiao & Michael Witunski (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1983), 21.

86Robert G. Stutter, The China Quandary: Domestic Determinants of U.S. China Policy: 1972-1982 (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1983), 114.

87Stutter, 3.

88Warren I Cohen, America's Response to China: A History of Sino-American Relations, 4th ed. (New York: Colombia University Press, 2000), 205.

89Cohen, 205.

90Robert Garson, The United States and China Since 1949: A Troubled Affair (Cranbury, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994), 153.

91Garson, 149.

92Stutter, 20-21.

93Stutter, 20-21.

94Ibid, 135.

95Freeman Jr, 26.

96William Burr, “Casting a Shadow over Trade: The Problem of Private Claims and Blocked Assets in U.S.-China Relations, 1972-1975,” in Diplomatic History 33 (2009): 316. (accessed July 28th)

97Burr 317.

98Stutter, 132.

99Stutter, 132.

100Burr, 317.

101Burr, 324.

102Ibid, 317.

103Stutter, 133.

104Stutter, 61.

105Freeman Jr., 26.

106Cohen, 225.

107Cohen, 204.

108Ibid, 221.

109Ibid, 225.

Creating Communist China: A Brief Literature Review

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