Nixon Paper

Nixon Paper - The Opening of China and the Battle Against...

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The Opening of China and the Battle Against Communism: An Analysis of President Richard Nixon’s Visit to the People’s Republic of China Anthony Jercinovich POSC 423 April 18, 2007
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Introduction Memories of the Nixon administration have long been marred by partisan bickering, associated with the quagmire of the Vietnam War, and tainted by the scandal of Watergate. For many years after his resignation, Richard Nixon was condemned as corrupt and President Gerald Ford was criticized for his decision to pardon Nixon for any crimes he may have committed. Yet over time the barrage of attacks against Nixon has begun to relent and his administration is generally portrayed in a more positive manner. As has been the case with many other presidents thought to be particularly impressive or unimpressive at the end of their term in office, the radical accusations have subsided somewhat and opposing information and viewpoints have come to light. Watergate remains a presence in any discussion of his presidency, but there have also been open acknowledgements of Richard Nixon’s successes, especially in foreign affairs. In particular, Nixon’s efforts to normalize relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) established a legacy of success for his presidency. At the time, Nixon’s decision to personally visit the PRC was a revolutionary and controversial idea. No president had ever visited communist China and the United States government did not even recognize the PRC as the legitimate government as China, but rather kept open diplomatic channels of communication with the Republic of China headquartered in Taiwan. Consequently, Nixon’s visit, televised around the world, surprised millions of people and was the first step in “opening up” China to the world. At the time, many questioned the reasons for this venture, but hindsight appears to provide the answers. Nixon’s decision to travel to China and engage in dialogue with the country’s leadership was influenced by his desire to avoid a Sino-Soviet alliance and gain leverage over the Soviet Union, the shift in policy from one of containment of communism to one of détente, and his belief that the establishment of normalized relations with the People’s Republic of China was inevitable. 3
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In this analysis I will examine in greater detail President Nixon’s rationale for attempting to improve US-Sino relations. To begin, it will be helpful to provide a brief background of the history of the PRC and its connection to the United States. I will then transition into a discussion on how Nixon believed that he could take advantage of the split between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) to leverage the two countries against each other and prevent a future alliance between them. Next will come an investigation into how the United States’ policy of containment prevented any president from opening talks with China and how the shift towards détente during Nixon’s presidency made such dialogue possible. Finally, I will argue that
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Nixon Paper - The Opening of China and the Battle Against...

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