Case 140 - Muted Differences: The Negotiations to Normalize U.S.-Chinese Relations

by ISD - Georgetown University
$ 4.50

Bernstein, Thomas P.

Although Sino-American relations slowly warmed during the 1970s, the United States and the People’s Republic of China did not establish formal diplomatic relations until January 1, 1979. This case study explores the negotiations that led to that outcome and raises the following questions:

What were the assumptions that American policymakers had about China’s actual and potential role in international politics? Why was there a sense of urgency to normalize relations?  Given China’s difficult situation vis-à-vis Vietnam and the Soviet Union, could the United States have gotten more for Taiwan from China in the negotiations leading up to the December 15, 1978, joint communiqué? Did the United States make unnecessary concessions to Beijing?