“Meanwhile, Nixon and Kissinger inched cautiously toward normalizing relations with the People’s Republic of China.  United States elites, including much of the foreign policy establishment, had long argued that the policy of isolation and containment were outdated.  Liberal Democrats such as Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts had taken up the cause.  A slowing economy revived century-old dreams of a potentially limitless Chinese mark as a solution.  Nixon and Kissinger saw geopolitical gains in the form of leverage with the Soviet Union and with North Vietnam in ending the war.  Ever the political animal, Nixon relished the prospect of being the first American president to visit China, in part because of the exquisite irony given his reputation as a hard-core anti-Communist, also for the likely political advantage.” –George Herring, From Colony to Superpower, p. 775

Discussion Questions

  • How did secrecy and deception contribute to the move toward opening of US-Chinese relations in 1971 and 1972?
  • Explain the mindset of the various forces –both inside and outside the US– who opposed the normalization of relations between the US and Communist China.