Factors which soured Sino-US Relations
US anger at the fall of China to the Communists
During WW2 the policy of the United States was initially to help China become a strong ally and a stabilizing force in postwar East Asia. It was assumed that the new China would be pro-US. USA wanted China to remain US-friendly because they feared increasing communist power if China as well as USSR became communist Chinese Civil War (解放战争)
The USA supported Chiang Kai-shek and the KMT (GMD) during the Chinese Civil War (known as in the PRC). They aided the Nationalists with massive economic loans but no military support. From an American perspective, the Communist victory was very worrying. In that same year, Russia detonated its first atomic bomb, ending the US monopoly over nuclear weapons. The arms race had begun, and the threat of nuclear war became a constant concern. The Communist victory made this even more worrying. From a Chinese point of view, the Americans had been their enemies and they saw the US as a great threat. As the greatest capitalist power, the US was automatically the target for Chinese opposition. USA’s Protection of Taiwan
The PRC planned to invade Taiwan in 1950 but the intervention of the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Taiwan Strait in 1950 caused them to postpone their plans. As a result of the Korean War, the USA believed that China had to be contained to support America’s security and economic interests, so committed itself to supporting Taiwan. It also continued to recognize Taiwan as the ‘real’ China by supporting their membership of the UN till 1972. Two Taiwan Crises:
1. 1954. PRC guns began shelling the Nationalist Chinese islands of Quemoy and Matsu in September 1954. The crisis escalated when Eisenhower declared at a news conference that in the event of war in East Asia, he would authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons against military targets 'exactly as you would use a bullet.' Brinkmanship 2. In 1958, Mao ordered a full-scale attack on Taiwan. The US responded by preparing for war against the PRC. The PRC withdrew its forces.
To the Chinese, the American support for the GMD-regime was an example of US imperialism. It was a good excuse for anti-imperialist propaganda which emphasized the idea that Taiwan was being oppressed by US occupation. Mao openly stated that he did not believe that the USA would attack China with nuclear weapons, but the threat shows how bad relations had become. Taiwan illustrates Chinese anger at what it felt was US imperialism. That the US should support its great enemy, Chiang, was a further insult. To the US China’s attitude towards Taiwan showed the desire of communism to take over the world. Taiwan was a good place to stop it from spreading.
US Refusal to give diplomatic recognition to the PRC
‘Diplomatic recognition’ is when one country accepts that another country is a proper country. The USA refused to give the PRC recognition. Its argument was that the true government of China was the one led by Chiang Kai-shek in Taipei, not the government in Beijing. This was deeply insulting to China. It weakened its influence worldwide because the ROC (i.e. Taiwan), not the PRC had China’s seat on the UN. Lack of recognition also made diplomacy between the two countries more difficult because they did not have the means to resolve tensions in the normal way.
The Korean War 1950-53
The US forces entered Korea under the UN flag. Many other countries sent soldiers but the US forces were the largest. China’s slogan was ‘North Korea’s friends are our friends. North Korea’s enemy is our enemy. North Korea’s defence is our defence.’ The fighting was intense. US lost 55000 soldiers. China lost 1 million. This meant that the two countries would feel great bitterness towards each other. After the fighting ended and Korea was divided, the US strongly supported South Korea (ROK) and China strongly supported North Korea (DPRK). The border was a constant reminder of...
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