Constructing the U.S. Rapprochement with China, 1961-1974: From 'Red Menace' to 'Tacit Ally'

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With Nixon's historic reconciliation with China in 1972, Sino-American relations were restored, and China moved from being regarded as America's most implacable enemy to a friend and tacit ally. Existing accounts of the rapprochement focus on the shifting balance of power between the USA, China and the Soviet Union, but in this book Goh argues that they cannot adequately explain the timing and policy choices related to Washington's decisions for reconciliation with Beijing. Instead, she applies a more historically sensitive approach that privileges contending official American constructions of China's identity and character. This book demonstrates that ideas of reconciliation with China were already being propagated and debated within official circles in the USA during the 1960s. It traces the related policy discourse and imagery, and examines their continuities and evolution into the early 1970s that facilitated Nixon's new policy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Skillfully crafted and solidly researched, Gohs analysis gives more depth to the historiography of Chinese-American diplomatic history."

"This is an important book ... [an] admirably thorough and clearly presented assessment of a wide range of recently declassified material. The book marks a major advance from the available literature on this important international turning point. It will be required reading for students, practicioners, and specialists on U.S. policy toward China for years to come."
China Review International, Robert Sutter, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service

"overall an interesting and important supplement to the orthodox rationalist explanation of teh U.S.-china rapprochement. It definitely contributes to our general understanding of how and why this important even occurred the way it did. It makes us think about the power of ideas, as well as the power of the constructivist approach." - Yufan Hao, Colgate University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521839860
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 299
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Evelyn Goh is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She graduated with first class honours in Geography from Oxford University, and also obtained an M.Phil. in Environment & Development from Cambridge University. In 2001, she completed a doctorate in International Relations at Nuffield College, Oxford. Dr. Goh has been a visiting fellow at the East-West Center in Washington DC, where she received the 2004 Southeast Asian Fellowship. Her main research interests lie in the areas of US foreign policy, US-China relations, and Asia-Pacific security and international relations. She has published on the diplomatic history of US-China relations, US strategy in the Asia-Pacific, the implications of 9/11 on US power, and environmental security. Her current projects include a comparative study of Southeast Asian states' security strategies vis-à-vis the US and China; a monograph tracing the evolution of the American policy towards China in the 1990s; and an investigation of the impact of China's hydropower development in the upper Mekong river basin on regional environmental security.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Competing Discourses, 1961–1968: 1. 'Red Menance' to 'Revolutionary Rival': re-casting the Chinese communist threat; 2. 'Troubled Modernizer' but 'Resurgent Power': revisionist images of the PRC and arguments for a new China policy; 3. The revisionist legacy: the discourse of reconsiliation with China by 1968; Part II. Discursive Transitions, 1969–1971: 4. Nixon's public China policy discourse in context; 5. Debating the rapprochement: 'resurgent revolutionary power' vs. 'threatened realist power'; Part III. Discourses of Rapprochement in Practice, 1971–1974: 6. 'Principled realist power': laying the discursive foundations of a new relationship, July 1971 to February 1972; 7. Principles in practice: policy implications of the decision for rapprochement; 8. 'Selling' the relationship: the Nixon Administration's justification of the New China policy; 9. 'Tacit ally' June 1972 to 1974: consolidating or saving the US-China rapprochement.

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