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A Cold War Turning Point

Nixon and China, 1969-1972

Chris Tudda

Publication Year: 2012

In February 1972, President Nixon arrived in Beijing for what Chairman Mao Zedong called the “week that changed the world.” Using recently declassified sources from American, Chinese, European, and Soviet archives, Chris Tudda’s A Cold War Turning Point reveals new details about the relationship forged by the Nixon administration and the Chinese government that dramatically altered the trajectory of the Cold War. Between the years 1969 and 1972, Nixon’s national security team actively fostered the U.S. rapprochement with China. Tudda argues that Nixon, in bold opposition to the stance of his predecessors, recognized the mutual benefits of repairing the Sino-U.S. relationship and was determined to establish a partnership with China. Nixon believed that America’s relative economic decline, its overextension abroad, and its desire to create a more realistic international framework aligned with China’s fear of Soviet military advancement and its eagerness to join the international marketplace. In a contested but calculated move, Nixon gradually eased trade and travel restrictions to China. Mao responded in kind, albeit slowly, by releasing prisoners, inviting the U.S. ping-pong team to Beijing, and secretly hosting Secretary of State Henry Kissinger prior to Nixon’s momentous visit. Set in the larger framework of international relations at the peak of the Vietnam War, A Cold War Turning Point is the first book to use the Nixon tapes and Kissinger telephone conversations to illustrate the complexity of early Sino-U.S. relations. Tudda’s thorough and illuminating research provides a multi-archival examination of this critical moment in twentieth-century international relations.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v

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pp. vii-xiv

It was late afternoon on November 10, 1971, and for the first time in months, the thirty-seventh president of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, enjoyed a rare day relatively free from the stresses of the presidency. Instead of having to cope with the latest international or domestic crisis, he had spent the early afternoon talking to singer Pat Boone...

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pp. xv-xvi

Anumber of people helped me produce this book. John Powers, formerly of the Nixon Project and now the deputy director of the National Archives and Records Administration’s Information Security Oversight Office, pointed me to the President’s Office Files as well as identified specific Nixon tapes to which I should listen. ...


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pp. xvii-xviii

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1 Nixon Pushes Rapprochement

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pp. 1-13

Nixon first began pushing for rapprochement with the PRC during a 1967 world tour and polished up his foreign policy credentials for his expected run for president. Most important, he talked to two leaders whom he expected to help him work with the PRC. In March in Bucharest, he told Ceausescu—in what became a common theme...

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2 A New Mood in Beijing

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pp. 14-32

While the Nixon administration ramped up its public and private efforts to affect a rapprochement with the PRC, little did it know that Mao Zedong had decided to reciprocate. The evidence from U.S. archives, as noted above in chapter 1, shows that the administration hoped for a change in Chinese policy, but did not expect...

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3 Tentative Steps and the Warsaw Channel

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pp. 33-53

While the Nixon administration wrestled with the implications of the latest dimension of the Sino-Soviet split, Romanian Prime Minister Ion Maurer told Zhou Enlai that Nixon had “expressed without any reservation his wish of finding a way to normalize relations with China. ...

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4 The Post-Cambodia Chill and the Pakistani Channel

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pp. 54-78

The Nixon administration dismissed Mao’s statement as propaganda rather than a desire to abandon rapprochement. Kissinger called Mao’s statement “remarkably bland,” one that made “no threats” against the United States, offered “no commitments” to Hanoi, and, unlike his previous public statements, did not refer to other bilateral issues...

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5 Kissinger’s Secret Trip to Beijing

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pp. 79-103

As the Pakistanis and the Americans busied themselves making the final arrangements for the secret trip to China, the Soviets continued to warn the White House that Beijing could not be trusted, but unwittingly gave the White House more ammunition to engage in triangular diplomacy. During a three-hour dinner on June 8...

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6 Reassuring Allies and Pursuing the Moscow Summit

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pp. 104-119

The heady days after Kissinger’s visit and Nixon’s dramatic announcement quickly disappeared as the realities of international affairs hit the two men squarely in the face. Not only had the announcement upset many conservatives, the Taiwanese, the Japanese, and the Soviets, but the administration had to confront...

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7 Chinese at the UN and Kissinger’s Second Visit to Beijing

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pp. 120-143

The administration continued to discuss the UN issue and linked it to Kissinger’s second, public trip to Beijing, scheduled for late October. Kissinger recognized that Nixon had been mulling over the public relations side of rapprochement with Haldeman, but advised the president “to tell Bush to delay the goddamn thing no matter what it costs.” ...

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8 Sino-U.S. Rapprochement and the Indo-Pakistani Crisis

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pp. 144-168

Just as the uproar over Taiwan’s expulsion from the UN began to subside, and on the eve of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s state visit to the United States, the Indo-Pakistani crisis threatened to explode into a full-fledged war, which directly impacted relations between the United States and the PRC. ...

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9 Homestretch to the Beijing Summit

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pp. 169-181

President Nixon celebrated the new year with a long, detailed interview with CBS television reporter Dan Rather. After answering a number of questions about Vietnam, Nixon discussed his impending trip to Beijing. Dismissing speculation that the visit was politically motivated, Nixon said that the process had taken a couple of years...

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10 The Beijing Summit

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pp. 182-201

On February 17, the president’s plane, which he had renamed Spirit of ’76 specifically for the summit, left Washington with Malraux’s words ringing his ears. Nixon recalled that Kissinger and Haldeman said that “there was almost a religious feeling to the messages we received from all the country, wishing us well.” ...

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11 Conclusion

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pp. 202-210

The Spirit of ’76 arrived in Washington at Andrews Air Force Base on February 28. Vice President Spiro Agnew, Nixon’s daughters, and even Dobrynin (but not Shen) led the enthusiastic crowd of 15,000 who greeted the party. One onlooker said, “It’s sort of like seeing the astronauts coming back from the moon.” ...


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pp. 211-256


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pp. 257-264


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pp. 265-274

E-ISBN-13: 9780807142905
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807142899

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2012