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Normalisation of US-China Relations

  • Context (IE): China and the US exchanged greetings on the anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties between their countries in 1979.
  • The process was completed under Chinese President Deng Xiaoping and US President Jimmy Carter.

Background of Normalisation of Sino-US Relations

  • The capitalist US and the socialist USSR were engaged in the Cold War, both superpowers claiming ideological and economic superiority.
  • While Russia backed the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the US pledged its support to Taiwan.
  • This was in line with the US strategy of ‘containment’ (or the Truman Doctrine), aimed at limiting the spread of Communism.
  • This led to divergence in the PRC and US relations.
  • After a split between the allies USSR and China, beginning in the early 1960s, the US believed that China could be an ally against the USSR.
  • China, too, was open to looking for new partners.
  • Closer relations with China were also seen as damage control for the Vietnam War 1975.

Normalisation of Ties

  • The US made an all-out effort to open communication with China (PRC).
  • The US also contacted Romania and Poland – both communist countries and even Pakistan for the same.
  • China raised American interference in Taiwan, and the US was invited to discuss it in Beijing.
  • This culminated in Kissinger secretly visiting China while officially visiting Pakistan in 1971.
  • Nixon’s official visit in 1972 became the first US President’s visit to China.
  • The trip would also establish Liaison Offices in Beijing and Washington, which functioned as informal diplomatic posts.
  • The 1972 Shanghai Communique was signed to acknowledge the desire for closer ties.
  • Shanghai Communique also referred to Taiwan, saying, “The USA acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.
  • In 1974, Nixon resigned following the Watergate scandal (which broke out in 1972), and Chinese leadership changed.
  • Thus, Normalisation could be completed in 1979.
  • Following the normalisation of ties, the US Embassy in Taipei, Taiwan, was shifted to Beijing.
  • Chinese President Deng also visited the US, becoming the first Chinese President.
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