China and the West

April 27, 1966

Report Outline
Change in U.S. Approach to Red China
China's Early Contacts with the West
Sino-Western Relations in 20th Century
Current and Future Relations with China

Change in U.S. Approach to Red China

Relations between the United States and Communist China, virtually frozen in mutual hostility since the outbreak of war in Korea in 1950, are now going through a period of reassessment at Washington. Prodded by searching inquiries into Asian policy conducted earlier this year by two congressional committees, the Johnson administration has indicated that current American policy toward China is not so rigid as it previously seemed to be.

Two witnesses heard by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee early in March —Prof. A. Doak Barnett of Columbia University and Prof. John K. Fairbank of Harvard —strongly urged that the United States abandon its policy of “containment and isolation” of Communist China and substitute a policy of military containment without isolation. The two, both leading authorities on Asian affairs, suggested that the United States encourage Communist Chinese participation in international conferences.

Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey said in a television interview a few days later that American policy toward Red China should be one of “containment without necessarily isolation.” Humphrey indicated that an attempt would be made to approach China in a manner similar to that followed with the Soviet Union in the late 1950s —a combination of firmness accompanied by active efforts to explore avenues to better relations. An announcement, March 9, that the United States was easing restrictions on travel of American scholars and scientists to mainland China was viewed as a part of the effort to improve relations with the Asian giant. Furthermore, the State Department disclosed, April 14, that several American universities which had made inquiries had been notified that scientists and scholars from Communist China would be permitted to visit the United States if they applied.

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