Isolating the Enemy: US-PRC Relations, 1953-56
Sino-American relations from 1953 to 1956 were marked by two contradictory tendencies. China and the United States adopted very confrontational policies toward each other, but at the same time, they took conciliatory actions even as they were confronting each other. Based on the new sources from China, Russia, Vietnam, as well as government documents from archives in the US, Britain and Taiwan, this dissertation assesses the interaction between China and the US from 1953 to 1956 from a multilateral perspective. It puts the two states' policy-making into the broader context of their relations with friends and allies, and concentrates on their perceptions/misperceptions of and actions/reactions to each other.Focusing on the Geneva Conference on Indochina, the First Taiwan Strait Crisis, and the Bandung Conference, this dissertation highlights the PRC's often-neglected peace initiatives at the Geneva and Bandung Conferences, and delves into the causes, the PRC leaders' motives, the influence of the Soviet Union, the shift to the Taiwan Strait Crisis, and the US leaders' perceptions and reactions.This dissertation reveals that although the Eisenhower administration had kept alive the idea of exploiting the divisions between the PRC and the Soviets, their policy concentrated more on containment of China rather than pressuring it in order to split the Sino-Soviet alliance; and the US containment was undermined by its reliance on cooperation with allies and using nuclear weapons to deter the PRC: while US dependence on allies gave American friends opportunities to influence its policy, US leaders' rhetoric about using atomic bombs strained their relations with friends as well as neutral states in Asia.China's policy in this period aimed to break US containment. Sensitive to US relations with its allies, Chinese leaders strived to exploit the differences between the US and its friends in order to build a buffer area in Indochina at the Geneva Conference, preclude a US-ROC alliance during the First Taiwan Strait Crisis, and exclude the US from Asia by building an "Area of Peace" on the basis of a united front with Asian states at the Bandung Conference. Meanwhile, the Chinese were aware of the US intention to split their alliance with the Soviet Union, and tried to strengthen the unity with the Soviet Union, which for its own reasons, provided China with substantial material as well as advisory assistance.On the US side, although US leaders also knew of the PRC's intentions to alienate them, they were less successful meeting this challenge, because US allies held different positions toward China, and moreover, the PRC leaders' consistent efforts to work off the US against its allies and Asian states added to the tensions in US relations with these countries.
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