IntroductionIn this essay, I will examine how US President Nixon was able to piggyback on the domino effects of the UN’s decision to give a seat in the Security Council to China’s Communist government in a time when Communism was frowned upon by the Western world. The US especially took it upon themselves as victors of World War II to help protect vulnerable countries from the far-reaching evil Communist hands, especially that of the USSR. Thus, when Nixon seemed to favor the Communist People’s Republic of China over the traditional allies of the US in the Republic of China, the US and the world was quite shocked by the sudden complete about face by the normally conservative, Republican president. In 1949, the Communist Party of China (CPC) led by Mao ZeDong successfully overthrew Chiang Kai-Shek’s Republic of China (ROC) government, which flew to Taiwan with a vow to take over the mainland once again. Due to the CPC’s originally good relations with the Soviets due to both having a Comunist government, most of the world did not acknowledge the CPC and considered the ROC as the rightful government of China. Thus, Communist China was closed off from the Western world. The first sign of turmoil between the Soviets and the Chinese began in the early 60s during what was known as the Sino-Soviet split. Simultaneously, the Vietnam War began and the US’ fight against Communism was magnified much more with both Communist China and the USSR indirectly helping North Vietnam. However, when leadership among the two Communist powers began to disagree on the fundamentals of Marxism and Communist theory, Communist China sought to gravitate towards the US as a way to assert themselves and catch up to the West in terms of world politics. Thus, Nixon capitalized on this alliance shift and extended diplomacy to Mao and China, irrevocably changing the status of the Cold War, Vietnam War, and relations with the capitalist Republic of China (a.k.a. Taiwan); this shocking change in policy was the epitome of his foreign diplomacy prowess as it lead to vast improvements and decrease in tension with the Soviets, temporarily helping to pacify the volatile Cold War. Much of my research was based off of documents from the National Archives that were mostly recorded transcripts of conversations between President Nixon and either Secretary Kissinger or Premier Lai of Communist China. These dialogues detailed Nixon’s views on the opening of relations with China that further lead to more influence in the East and eventually near detente with the USSR. China’s Ascension to Power The first mention of shifting the China seat from Chiang’s ROC to Mao’s PRC occurred at the beginning of the 26th session of the General Assembly. Led by fellow Communist and ally Albania on July 15th 1971, a group of 22 small countries that were members of the UN voiced that the PRC, with its firm control over the most populous country in the world (reporting nearly 850 million people which was almost 300 million more than the second most populated country India), was more deserving of the China seat in the UN than the ROC. They highlighted the fact that the ROC only governed a small territory and needed the assistance of US military forces, which paled in comparison to the massive land mass the PRC sustained by itself. Furthermore, this group called for the expulsion of Chiang’s ROC from the UN as many felt that the “two China” problem was an internal problem which needed to be solved by the PRC itself. The mass majority of the citizens of mainland China vehemently rejected the idea of “two Chinas” and also did not want to accept the idea of the ROC being an independent nation as “Taiwan”. Thus, reflecting the wishes of the PRC, most felt that removing Chiang’s government from “the seat which it unlawfully occupied” was the best way to resolve the conflict between the PRC and the ROC and also ensure a more balanced vote in regards to future UN decisions. The PRC was also able to gain a large backing in comparison to the ROC because many newly freed former colonies turned countrie agreed with the PRC’s anti-imperialist views. Mao and his government were outwardly against Western influence in Asia while Chiang needed to desperately rely on large capitalist powers such as the US to even have a fraction of control in Taiwan. This attitude towards the imperialists of Europe and America was strongly supported and agreed on by the smaller countries that had just been freed from oppressive imperialist rule. In addition, the PRC had begun to become much stronger than Taiwan in economic and technological aspects. Mao’s programs such as the Great Leap Forward were debilitating to Chinese culture and human rights, but they also greatly transformed China from an agriculturally dependent country to a more modern industrial power. Both the PRC and the ROC were adamant about maintaining a “one-China” policy, and both governments claimed that they themselves were the rightful government of China. The PRC was also insistent that Taiwan was a territory that was part of China and they would not accept a seat in the UN if the ROC were also represented. On August 17, 1971, the US requested a change to the original proposition made in July; they advocated for both the PRC and the ROC to be fairly represented, feeling as if the UN should not have to choose between the two governments (United Nations). The group of 22 countries shot this proposal down by blaming Nixon and the US for purposefully attempting to create two Chinas so that he could still use Chiang Kai Shek to take the China seat so he could have more say in UN affairs. The first draft submitted on September 25, 1971, called for the complete restoration of rights to the PRC as it was the only “lawful” representative of China and that they would take the China seat on the Security Council. However, the main debate surrounded around whether or not the ROC as “Taiwan” should be expelled. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Tunisia felt that the ROC should still be represented as “Formosa” or “Taiwan” because they were technically a sovereign state, but that the seat on the Security Council would belong solely to the PRC. Albania and other Chinese allies, however, were adamant that because the ROC and Chiang had unfairly deprived the PRC of its rights in the UN for over 20 years, they needed to be immediately and completely expulsed from the UN. They also argued that because the ROC still claimed itself to be the true government of China, they were not a sovereign state but rather a “dissident minority regime”. Thus, the UN could not ignore the principles among which it was founded and give a seat in the UN to Formosa because its defiance against the PRC was China’s own internal dilemma. Two proposals were pitted against each other to determine the fate of both Chinese governments: the 23-power plan and the 19-power plan. The 23-power plan was supported by Albania and other Chinese allies and stated strongly that the PRC was the sole rightful government of China and that the ROC should be “expelled” so as to avoid causing other rebellion movements to try to gain seats in the UN just by taking over a portion of a country. The 19-power plan recommended that the UN should recognize that there were two Chinese governments at the time, but still only one China; the countries supporting this plan argued that doing so would be a sign of the peace and harmony the UN was formed to achieve. By this time, the US had conceded to allowing the PRC membership, but still supported the idea of the ROC retaining their membership as they had done nothing undesirable to be stripped of their rights. So, they proposed an amendment to the 23-power plan, saying that the ROC’s status as a member of the UN would be determined by a two-thirds majority vote; this amendment was barely approved because so many countries wanted to expel the ROC as they were not viewed as a true government. Finally, on October 25, 1971, the General Assembly voted in favor of the original 23-power plan “by a roll-call vote of 76 to 35, with 17 abstentions”. This plan would be known as UN general assembly resolution 2758 and it drastically changed the US’s perspective of China as well as how the US would battle Communism. US Perception of China Before 1971As the president of the United States of America during Cold War, Richard Nixon was a catalytic force in improving relations between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the USA. Throughout his term, Nixon actively sought to lessen the tensions between the two superpowers that was building and threatening to escalate into a nuclear war. However, Communism was also expanding in Asia via the rise of the Communist Party of China (CPC) who had overtaken the Chinese government in the 1949 Chinese Communist Revolution. In the 1950s and 60s, the US viewed the PRC-controlled China as the main ally to their immediate rival, the USSR, as both were Communist countries. Furthermore, the Chinese were active in the many skirmishes in East Asia that occurred directly following World War II as a result of the US’s policy of containment. The PRC had sent troops to aid North Korea in the Korean war and were very supportive of the Communist regime in North Vietnam who were fighting against US ally South Vietnam (Li and Hao). The US had adopted the policy that they would never recognize the PRC as the legitimate government of China unless it stopped getting involved in the Vietnam and Korean War, a stance that President Nixon (a congressman at this time) vehemently and publicly supported (National Security Archive). In fact, while Nixon himself was Vice President, he visited Taiwan in 1953 to show outward support for Chiang Kai Shek and his ROC government. He came back with positive reports of their administration and military forces to assure the anti-Communists of his Republican party that Communism in the world’s largest country would be defeated sooner or later. Russia Splits with China As China Grows More AssertiveThe Sino-Soviet Split that occurred stemmed from ideological differences between Mao and Khrushchev, especially in regards to the topic of how the Chinese workers absorbed the technical and industrial training that the specialists the USSR had sent over to China to help the PRC advance their industrialization movements (Jersild). For example, in a 1960 negotiation between the PRC and the USSR, the two sides disagreed on almost every single controversial topic, including border disputes and what China felt was unnecessary interference and attempted undermining by the USSR (Ostermann). The PRC repeatedly used the term “revisionists” to condemn the Soviets, feeling as though the Khrushchev led Soviet government was straying from traditional Marxism and not implementing true socialism. As the relationship between the two largest Communist countries became even more strenuous, the US began to loosen their viewpoint that the PRC would “never” be recognized as “China”. The US did not want to outwardly state that they would support a Communist government in the middle of Asia, but they no longer completely denied the PRC’s influence in the Far East, with Secretary of State Dulles warily stating that they might have to eventually recognize the PRC despite the fact that Vice President Nixon was in Taiwan at the time appeasing to Chiang (USIS). Furthermore, the PRC had started to drift from North Vietnam due to how the Chinese soldiers sent there were received and portrayed. Mao wanted to portray an image of the PRC saving other less powerful and formerly colonized Asian countries from the corruption of Western imperialism and capitalism. However, the Vietnamese were prideful and did not want to be used by the Chinese, leading to many of Mao’s attempts to send direct help to Hanoi to be denied. Instead, Ho Chi Minh (the leader of North Vietnam) opted to accept help from the Soviets, and later when the North Vietnamese began to lose interest in agreeing with the PRC’s criticisms of the USSR’s style of Marxism, the PRC became offended and started to withdraw its assistance by the end of the 60s (Garver). U.S. Foreign Policy Regarding Communist China Begins to Change With Communist China becoming increasingly isolated from the USSR, the US began to realize that not all Communism was the same and that the disharmony between the Communist bloc was something to take advantage of. Fearing the USSR as the more immediate threat with their dangerous nuclear developments, Nixon (now president), began to ease formal relations with the PRC. Due to Congress still harboring an overall strong distrust of Communism, Nixon and his National Security Advisor, Dr. Henry Kissinger, reached out to the PRC by way of an intermediate country of Pakistan (National Security Archive). By easing travel and trade restrictions, the US had gained the PRC’s interest and while the US ping pong team was in Japan for a tournament, China officially extended a formal invitation to the team members to visit China. Recognizing this development as a possible vehicle towards friendlier relations, Nixon acted on the positive publicity of the Americans in China and secretly sent Kissinger to China in July to discuss diplomacy and entertaining the possibility of Nixon and Mao meeting (National Security Archive). Ironically, simultaneously, this was when the 23 power plan to replace the ROC with the PRC in the UN was beginning to be formed. Thus, although the US publically shunned the PRC and voted against the General Assembly Resolution in October, conversations to discuss an alliance of sorts was very much occurring behind closed doors. By early 1972, rapprochement seemed inevitable as Kissinger had got on well with Zhou En Lai, premier of the PRC who worked together with Mao. A major reason contributing to why the PRC were willing to open up to the US stemmed from Kissinger’s vague promises to the Communists that they did not fully support the ROC. Zhou assumed that the US would break all ties with the ROC in Taiwan, while Kissinger would avoid the question because of how much influence the conservative Republicans had in Congress (naturally, the right wing Nixon supporters were scared of the evils of Communism and assumed the PRC blindly followed the Soviets). This reassured Zhou and the PRC that it was worth it to extend friendly relations to the US so that its own geopolitical standing would be enhanced. Finally, on February 21st through 28th, President Nixon made the first official presidential trip, known as the “Shanghai Communique” to China since the Communists had gained power; this event would be deemed the “opening of China”, but its greatest impact was in world politics (National Security Archive). Throughout the entire conference, Nixon and Zhou were very cordial and got along well. Nixon responded well to the Chinese culture and the Chinese were also very welcoming to the president of the country they had been conditioned to despise for its capitalistic greed. One of Nixon’s main goals for the Shanghai Communique was to use his very publicized tour of China as a distraction from the bloody situation in Vietnam that had become very controversial back at home. The olive branch that Nixon offered to the PRC seemed to symbolize his desire for peace above all, as it was only twenty some years ago that the two countries were effectively at war (Korean War). This marked the first time Nixon outwardly affirmed that the US would be fully supporting the PRC. The four declarations the US made in response to the Taiwan problem confirmed that there was “only one China” and that the US considered Taiwan part of China (National Security Archive). Nixon declared that the US would pull its troops out of Taiwan, symbolizing its promise to stay out of what it deemed to be a Chinese internal affair. Furthermore, the US promised that they would do its best to promote normalization between Taiwan and China via helping squash any independence movements in Taiwan or other foreign Asian powers trying to help the ROC (Japan). This public acceptance and support of a large Communist power was the precedence for Nixon’s detente movement that was more focused on world peace, not trying to rid the world of Communism. The question of national security was what sparked this change in attitude towards China’s Communist government. How Nixon Turned the PRC Against the USSR in Hopes of Achieving DetenteBy undermining Communist alliances, this friendship between the US and the PRC also effectively blocked off the support North Vietnam was getting from China. Although the PRC was still wary of American imperialism, their worries were quelled as they believed Nixon would carry through with his policy of “Vietnamization”, in which the American forces would train the South Vietnamese while at the same time retreating its own troops. Thus, with the combination of the American promise of Vietnamization and the growing divide between the Communist powers in the East, Nixon was able to utilize the meeting with Zhou to build the beginning relationships that would help achieve Nixon’s larger goal of detente rather than containment. While the USSR was rapidly increasing and improving its nuclear arsenal, the PRC was not far behind; befriending them was a precaution as it would be difficult if the US ever had to face not one, but two Communist superpowers in a thermonuclear war. With the tensions between the USSR and the US continuously rising, this was a time period when nuclear war seemed almost inevitable. Thus, Nixon and Kissinger were able to look past the large philosophical differences between the two governments. Nixon personally started to soften his stance on China when he realized that the PRC was doing much better than the struggling ROC. When he went on a trip to Taiwan, he constantly affirmed that the ROC was the rightful government of China, but also declared that the people of mainland China were being held against their will (National Security Council)). In this way, he portrayed the PRC as a misled government that would eventually break free of its ignorant and oppressive control of the Chinese due to its people eventually realizing that its current government suppressed the traditional Chinese values of family honor and ambition. He continued by exaggerating how Chinese culture has always been similar to the American lifestyle with family values playing a large role in society. Nixon seemingly had to convince himself during his pre-Presidency years transitioning into the 70s that the Communist PRC was not another puppet that the USSR manipulated to add to its growing control over Communist territories in the East. Another advantage of recognizing the PRC as the legitimate government of China was the fact that doing so would help undermine Communist alliances. For most of the conservative capitalists in America, lack of freedom and the idea of a mass Socialist movement taking over the world was the main worry with the Communists in the East. Becoming allies with the US further alienated China from the Soviets and the North Vietnamese. The blossoming friendship between the Chinese and Americans was a motivating factor for the USSR to begin thinking about easing relations with the US as well. Feeling left out and threatened by the PRC’s rise as a fellow Communist superpower, the Soviets changed their stance on the US. Previously, the US had attempted to schedule meetings and conferences with the USSR to discuss disarmament and opening relations, but the USSR had mostly rejected these notions. However, following the announcement of Nixon’s formal trip to China, the USSR agreed to attend a disarmament summit to discuss slowing down the arms race with the US. The Results of Nixon’s Negotiations The US went to the Moscow Summit in May of 1972, shortly after Nixon wrapped up talks with Zhou at the Shanghai Communique (National security Archives). Much progress was made at the Moscow Summit, as Nixon and General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev did not have many issues with each other and seemed to have the same general vision in mind of moving towards world peace. This was expressed through the creation and signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I), and the U.S.–Soviet Incidents at Sea agreement (National Security Council). Compared to the previous 30 years of hostility and isolation, this summit was a quick and monumental change in world politics between the two superpowers of the world. What was equally as important was the fact that Nixon also signed agricultural, economical, and technological treaties; the fact that the US was determined to work with the USSR beyond disarmament was a testament to thawing the cold attitude the two countries had with each other. For example, both countries’ quick improvements in the space field were part of the “arms race” between the two during the 60s with both the USSR and the US sending multiple inventions to space. Thus, Nixon and Brezhnev were able to discuss working together rather than against each other to further the technology of mankind as a whole rather than for the sole purpose of beating the other, leading to the Apollo-Soyouz Test Project. ConclusionIn retrospect, the UN’s decision to replace the ROC with the PRC in the “China” seat ultimately led to the US’ acceptance of the Communist country and therefore the lessening of the natural tensions between the US and the PRC. With this improved relationship, the US was able to manipulate this relationship to influence the USSR to attend peace summits and work towards disarmament. However, the move that would lead to newfound friendship between the US and the PRC also affected the geopolitics of countries beyond just the large powers. For example, by declaring at the Shanghai Communique that the US would help put down any Taiwanese independence movements or any foreign powers attempting to stake claim to Taiwan, Nixon effectively ensured that the US would always have a say in Asia. The PRC by this time had obviously proved that they would soon become the face of Asia, evident in the great strides it made in westernization. Furthermore, the US becoming friendlier to the PRC and the USSR gave Nixon more leverage it could use to finally put an end to the Vietnam War, a strategically beneficial move despite the US government’s ineptitude in handling the Vietnam War. Extending friendship to the PRC also gave the US a slight boost in the economy as China was a rapidly growing market; trade with the Communist country reached billions of US dollars.Despite Nixon’s controversial exit from the presidency via the Watergate scandal, his detente movement continued strongly with the works of his successor: Gerald Ford. Ford continued to push for world peace and disarmament with acts like the Helsinki Accords. The US’ relationship with the PRC was stronger than ever as Ford followed Nixon’s example and also took a trip there in December of 1975. Unfortunately, the Cold War greatly escalated to even higher tensions during the very next presidential term when the USSR invaded Afghanistan and President Jimmy Carter condemned the USSR, announcing sanctions on them. It was not until the times of President George H. W. Bush that true detente was able to be achieved as the USSR was dissolved. In conclusion, the decision to remove the ROC from the China seat in the UN and replace it with the Communist PRC government did help the US in its attempts to achieve detente with the USSR, but full detente was not reached until about 20 years later. Therefore, despite the addition of such a anti-Western and Communist country to the UN, the US was able to momentarily drive forward the ideal of world peace.