From the rise of terrorism to trade deficits, many problems face the United States and China today. In this blog post I'll list off every major issue between the United States and China, their backstories, and what they could mean for the future of Sino-US relations.
Rivalries #1: Diaoyudao/Senkaku Islands dispute
The Diaoyudao/Senkaku islands are a series of small uninhabited islands located near the coast of Taiwan in the Ryukyu Islands Chain. The islands are called the Diaoyudao Islands by the Chinese, and the Senkaku islands by the Japanese.
Aerial photo of the Diaoyudao/Senkaku islands. They are small, uninhabited, and mostly barren of life. However, they are the source of many political troubles.
Both China and Japan claim the Diaoyudao/Senkaku islands and the exclusive economic zone near them, and both nations have presented extensive historical evidence to backup their claims. The evidence provided by both countries stretch back hundreds of years and is very interesting to read, and I truly suggest you read both sides and decide for yourself which nation is correct, but point of this blog post however, is not to debate which side has the better claim, but how the dispute affects relations between China and the United States.
Both China and Japan have a series of territorial disputes against each other and their neighbors, however, this dispute is particularly important because it has involved significant military attention of both countries. As both China and Japan often send their navies to that region in an effort to intimidate the other. Using this conflict, both nations are also inflamming nationalism and hate for the other country among its population.
As important as Japan is as a nation, its military is nothing compared to China's, the only reason that China has not yet seized these islands by force yet is because of Japan's powerful ally, the United States. The United States has promised Japan to come to its aid in the event of war with China, and the US is the primary reason why the Chinese Communist government, though daily broadcasting propaganda about China's "rightful historical claim" to those islands, have been very hesitant in actually attempting to take them.
The United States's protective policy towards Japan is greatly straining relations between the two nations, as many Chinese people believe that the United States is standing in the way between China's rise from the humiliations of the 20th century. Many Chinese people also consider the present territorial dispute as a part of the feud between China and Japan that has been in place since the First Sino-Japanese War.
Many Chinese people, encouraged by their government, believe in a conspiracy theory that the United States is secretly plotting the downfall of China and is trying to surround China by occupying or letting its allies occupy the islands next to China. Most Chinese people view this island dispute as part of America's "encirclement" strategy, which is causing hostile attitudes towards America.
Rivalries #2: South China Sea Crises
Due to the vast amount of the natural resource offered, the massive amounts of trade that flows through, and the strategic and military value of the islands located in the South China Sea region, pretty much every single nation near it have conflicting claims over those islands
China's "Nine-Dash Line", supposedly representing China's historical territory and land that was taken from it after World War II. The nationalist Chinese Government-in-exile in Taiwan also claims the area in the nine-dash line.
If you're old enough to be reading this post, you've probably already heard of the South China Sea dispute. While the American media likes the point at China as the instigator of the crises, the truth is that every neighboring country is at fault. Instead of offering to give up their claims and for all nearby countries to join together and share that region, all the countries surrounding the South China Sea have instead chosen to rush and plant their flag on the first uninhabited piece of wet rock they see. Leading to an extremely complicated political situation that can warrant its own series of blog posts.
While all the other claims in the region are based on distance (ex. my country is closest to these islands, so they belong to my country) China's claims are based on history (ex. my country used to own these islands hundreds of years ago, so they belong to us). Before the fall of the Qing Dynasty, China used to occupy the South China Sea islands, however after the collapse of the empire, the new Chinese government was too politically and militarily weak to occupy those islands, and so neighboring countries and colonial powers moved in. Now that the Chinese government is strong again, they claim historical ownership over these islands and the entire south China sea. While most American and western media claims that China is doing so for the natural resources in that region and to demonstrate its military power, I have an alternative theory, which I will discuss at the end of this blog post.
Similar to the Diaoyudao/Senkaku islands dispute mentioned above, if it wasn't for the United States, China, being a major world power, can single handedly defeat all of the other nations and completely occupy the South China Sea. However, to challenge China's claims and prevent China from upsetting the balance of power in the region, the United States often sends carriers and battlecruisers to China's claimed regions and next to China's artificial islands.
The Chinese people and the government are intensely nationalistic, and they view America's involvement in the South China Sea as a threat to China, and many Chinese also view this as part of the conspiracy theory to surround as China mentioned above.
Time Lapse of a underwater reef being converted into an artificial islands by the Chinese.
My personal theory regarding why China has suddenly became so territorially aggressive in recent years:
Disclaimer: This is just my personal theory based on my eleven years of experience living in China and my knowledge of the Chinese Government and the Chinese People, I don't really have that much evidence to support it, so take this theory with a grain of salt.
Is China's rapid economic growth in recent years an example that totalitarian states work? (March Post)
Westerners have many misconceptions about China, while most are simply slightly annoying, some are very infuriating, such as when many westerners think that the rapid growth of China in recent years are caused by or is benefitting from the totalitarian rule of the Communist Party. This myth is so prevalent that almost every article I read online about China's growing economy mentions it, and so do many so-called "experts on China" online. I'm no expert on China, but I can tell you that it is completely false, while the totalitarianism of the Communist government might've done some good to the Chinese economy, its disadvantages far outweighed any benefits it might've had. The true reason behind China's massive economic growth has nothing to do with the Chinese government; and everything to do with the history of China and China itself.
Propaganda poster for the "Great Leap Forward" a series of economic and political reforms by the Communist government during the late 1950s and early 1960s that totally wrecked China's already brittle economy for years.
The history of China's economy is a depressing one. China's recent economic growth was preceded by over two centuries of economic isolationism and stagnation, with little to no trade with any other country in the world, and horrible economic and living conditions. China's economy had been in massive decline even prior to the fall of the Qing dynasty, and the chaos that followed only worsened China's. After the Communists took over after the Chinese Civil War, the new government tightly regulated all trade and had complete monopoly over every resource in China. The communists also outlawed private trade, when my grandma was young, she recalls seeing someone tried and being put into jail for selling eggs without official approval. In a nutshell, prior to Deng's reforms mentioned in the previous blog post, China was just one massive North Korea. It was only until after Deng's reforms that loosened the power of the Communist Government, did China's economy start to make a comeback. The totalitarianism of the government not only did not benefit China's economy, it inhibited it for long periods of time.
But not only did the totalitarian government not help, China's history has shown that it often made mistakes that severely damaged its economy. The "Great Leap Forward" is a excellent example of that. The "Great Leap Forward", or the "Second Five-Year plan of the People's Republic of China", was an effort made by the Chinese Communist Government to modernize China's economy and to bring it up to western standards, not only did it failed miserably, it caused a famine that killed tens of millions of people and set China's economy back at least a decade. During the "Great Leap Forward", Mao famously ordered peasants to kill all the sparrows because he thought that doing so will increase grain production, however that caused locusts, whom that sparrows ate, to multiply and massively damage grain production.
Chinese history has shown that despite what many westerners believe, the totalitarian communist government was not a factor in China's economic growth, as a matter of fact, its policies only served to stifle the Chinese economy. But if the government is not the cause of China's growth, what is?
Chinese miners working near a coal mine, they're picking out desirable coal from undesirable coal. China is the world's largest coal producer and has the world's third largest coal reserves.
Chinese construction worker busy at work.
China's recent economic growth is surprising to many, but it shouldn't, historically, China's economy had always been the world's largest and most powerful. As a matter of fact, in China, the recent economic growth is referred to as a "recovery" back to the golden age of China during the early Ming and Qing dynasty. China is rich in both manpower and natural resources, it has had the potential to become the economic superpower it is today for a long time, however, political instability and bad communist policies have hampered any significant growth until recently.
Chinese GDP over time.
My father was born in the 1960s, back when the entire GDP of China was only around 70 Billion, today the GDP is around 11 trillion, that is a 255 time difference! But as you can see in the graph above, major economic growth did not happen until after Deng's reforms in the 1980s. And just in case you forgot what the reforms were since the previous blog post, the reforms included the central government opening up the Chinese economy to the general public and removing many regulations and controls, "privatization" of the government monopolies, and massive reductions in the power of the central government in regards to trade and the economy. This shows that the economy of China improved only after the government became less totalitarian! The numbers don't lie, China's recent growth is caused by the Communist government becoming less totalitarian and more free, the true cause of China's economic growth is its people and natural resources. China has the world's largest population and workforce, China has the third largest coal reserves, thirteenth largest in oil reserves, and the world's largest in iron reserves. China also has an incredible production capacity, as China is number one in the world for both iron and coal production, and fifth largest in oil production.
Those are the true reasons why China's economy is growing, it is not caused by a totalitarian state, it is caused by the Chinese people and China itself.
Skyline of Shanghai at night, what a beautiful sight.
Relations between China and the United States from the end of World War II to modern day (September 9, 1945-January 1, 2000):
Finally, after all that background history, we're getting into modern day relations. But before we can discuss modern day, you need to sit through one last lecture about the history of Sino-American relations, for it is impossible to truly comprehend the intricate relations between America and China today without fully learning about their background and history. This will be the last blog about the history of Sino-American relations, and in the future blogs we'll be discussing current relations, future relations, and how to create a future that is beneficial for both countries. In this final blog I'll talk about relations between China and the United States from the end of World War II to present day.
After World War II, most major cities in China was reduced to ruin by the fighting, and 20 million Chinese civilians had died, the Nationalist government was severely weakened by the war, the Communists took advantage of that and with Soviet help, managed to overthrow the Nationalists. This is an image of a city being recaptured by the Chinese government near the end of the war.
Fortnight by Fortnight time lapse of the First Part of the Chinese civil war, when the Nationalists focused on attacking the Communists and reuniting China from the scattered warlord nations.
The Chinese civil war is divided into two parts, the first part was the Nationalists' reconquest of China from the warlords before Japan invaded, and the second part was the civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists after WWII ended. The Communists won the civil war and ruled China.
Relations between China and the United States during the Chinese Civil War (March 31, 1946 - 1 May, 1950):
As a stated in a previous blog post, prior to World War II, China was divided into many small warlord-nations; the Nationalists; and the Communists (Warlord). While the warlords were focused only on preserving their own power, the Nationalists and the Communists were focused on reuniting China under their ideology (PE). That struggle was the first part of the Chinese Civil War, as the Nationalists, under Jiang-Jieshi, either invaded or diplomatically annexed many warlords and beat back the Communists. Just as Jiang was about to reunite China however, the Japanese invaded, and the Nationalists were forced to make a truce with the Communists to focus on the Japanese instead (Kucha). Towards the end of the war, the Soviet Union invaded Japanese-Occupied Northern China (History), and after Japan surrendered, they gave the land to the Communists, giving the Communists an edge against the Nationalists (PE). However, because the main force of the Japanese surrendered to the United States in Tokyo Harbor, the Americans were able to instruct most of the Japanese forces in China to surrender to the Nationalists exclusively (Hagen).
Literally the moment Japan surrendered to the United States, although both sides were extremely exhausted from fighting the Japanese, the Communists and the Nationalists resumed their civil war (Chinese).
The Map above shows the territory control map at the beginning of the Chinese civil war.
Towards the end of World War II, most of China was still occupied by the Japanese, after the Japanese surrendered in Tokyo Harbor to the United States, all Japanese soldiers and offices were commanded to surrender to and only to the Nationalists - "Kuomintang/国民党" means Nationalist Party in Chinese (Hagen). That is why most Japanese occupied territory went to the Nationalists, however, before the Japanese surrender, the Soviets invaded and took over Northern China (History), they gave that land to the Chinese Communists after the War ended (PE).
Initially after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union had great relations because they had just worked together to defeat the Nazis. However, the Chinese civil war proved to be one of the first fissures in that relationship that eventually lead to the cold war. The United States supported the Nationalists while the Soviet Union supported the Communists, which put the two superpowers at odds with each other in China (Lesson).
Although the Americans were supporting the Nationalists from the beginning of the civil war, they were still bitter about China not cooperating with them in launching major offensives against the Japanese (Hagen), any Nationalist China did not receive any major US aid until October 1947 (U.S.), after the momentum of the war had turned against the Nationalists (PE). Meanwhile the Communists received massive aid from the Soviets in terms of both manpower, equipment, war technology, and money (Chinese).
The first year of the civil war was mostly stalemate, as the Communists tried to consolidate its power over the Chinese North.
It was not until late 1947, over a full year into the civil war, did the American public and politics take interest in helping out the Nationalists militarily instead of just politically, however, the contribution was only a meager $27.7 million (U.S.). While that might seem like a lot of money to us as an individual, in a war between two nations, $27.7 million is barely just chicken feed; a single battleship can cost up to 10 times that amount (PE).
The Nationalists were already exhausted from fighting the Japanese, are there were a lot of unrest in Nationalist controlled provinces, they also had problems recruiting soldiers and supplying them. The communists however, with promises of government reforms, land redistribution, and a communist utopia, won over the hearts and minds of many young Chinese. And each communist victory only cemented their claims (Chinese).
Meanwhile, the Nationalists only gained power on a rhetoric of uniting China and making China great again, when the people saw that it was losing major battles and land to the Communists, they lost their faith in the Nationalists and decided that the Communists will bring them a better future (PE).
1948 was the last chance for the Nationalists to make a comeback, but it was already becoming too hard. Every day that passed, public support for the Communists increases while support for the Nationalists decreased.
By the second year of the civil war the American public was finally starting to become worried, the Communists actually seemed to be winning! And so congress not only passed $400 million in contribution to the Nationalists for them to turn the tide, they also sent military advisers to China to help the Chinese military, this was great for the Nationalists, finally some useful aid, but it was too late (U.S.). The public support continued to swing in favor of the Communists, and the Nationalists were losing city after city, despite American support (Chinese).
But don't forget the Soviets, they also helped the Communists a lot. Without their support it would've been impossible for the Communists to win the war, the Soviet Union constantly supported the Communists with guns, ammunition, tanks, planes, artillery, and other machines of war; they even sent specially trained commando "Volunteers" to sneak behind Nationalist lines to engage in espionage and sabotage (PE).
While the Americans did support the Nationalists, their support was nothing compared to Soviet support for the Communists.
By 1949 the war was effectively over, the Communists had control over most of China's industry, manpower, and major cities. Although the Nationalists fought on, there was no way they could've turned the tide from there.
The US president at that time, Harry S. Truman, was never fond of Nationalist China. He opposed giving aid to China when the civil war started; he opposed American intervention in China (even though the Soviets were intervening on a massive scale); and on 1949, when the tide had changed dramatically in favor of the Communists, he withdrew all American support for Nationalist China, and stopped aid (U.S.); thus sealing the victory for the Communists.
Without American support, the Nationalists still fought on, but by than it was a hopeless battle.
I don't want to rant about President Truman, however, if he had been more helpful to the Nationalists at the beginning of the war, and had given massive aid without a second thought, China might've been saved from the Communists, and billions of Chinese would've been spared the horrors of Chinese Communism. His decision to not help China really came to bit him back though during the Korean war, which was a war fought mainly between China and the USA. President Truman's inability to help Nationalist China and to reunify Korea is one of the main reasons he is not regarded by most historians as a very successful president (Harry).
After the North fell, the Communists went for the cities of Shanghai 上海 and the Nationalist capital of Nanjing 南京. They were able to capture them without a few months of the fall of Beijing 北京.
After Nanjing and Shanghai had fallen to the Communists, the Nationalist lost all of their major cities in mainland China. In a matter of months the Communists were able to invade and take over the south, than they turned west, taking the city of Chong-Qing 重庆, the last nationalist stronghold in China.
After the fall of Chong-Qing and Hainan island 海南岛, the Nationalists were effectively driven from all of mainland China, thus ending the Chinese civil war with a complete Communist takeover. The Communists also invade and annex the nation of Tibet, on the pretext that it was part of the Qing Empire.
After the Chinese civil war ended, the Nationalist government escaped to the island of Taiwan off the coast of China. And the Communists were in control of the entirety of mainland China (Chinese). However, the United States refused to recognize the Communists, and continued the recognize the Nationalists in Taiwan as the true representatives of China (Kissinger).
After World War II, China was given a seat in both the United Nations and as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (PE). However, because America and most nations recognized only the Taiwan-based Nationalist government as the true representatives of China, the Communists were refused a seat in the UN. So the Nationalists, while only controlling the island of Taiwan, was able to represent all of China in the UN and all UN meetings (Kissinger).
This really pissed off the Chinese Communists, and the Chinese Communists, now referred to as China (Since they're in control of all the Chinese mainland) and hurt Sino-US relations a lot. This period of time marked a very low point in Sino-US relations (PE).
The People's Republic of China, note that the island of Taiwan is claimed by China but governed by the Nationalists.
Relations between China and the United States prior to the Sino-Soviet Split (1950-1964):
Communist Propaganda in China during the 1950s. During the lowest point of relations between China and the United States. The caption states: "The working class must lead/direct all.
Like I stated above, after the Chinese Civil War, the Chinese were really pissed off by America not recognizing it and instead recognizing Taiwan, which China simply views as a renegade province (PE). Because America did not recognize China and only recognize Taiwan as "true China", there was literally no diplomatic communication between mainland China and the United States during that time (Kissinger). And the new communist government in China, influenced by the Soviet Union, put up many anti-capitalist and anti-western propaganda as a part of the cold war (PE). When the Chinese civil war ended with a Communist victory, the American public at first was shocked and many blamed president Truman for the defeat (Truman), however, as the reality of both a Communist China and the Cold War sank in, the American publicly and diplomatically labeled China as a communist enemy (Lesson).
Just when you thought that relations could not get any worse, it did. Relations were further crushed by the Korean War, which was basically a proxy war between China and the United States (PE).
American trucks crossing the 38th Parallel (the border between North and South Korea) during the Korean war.
Before World War II, Korea was a part of the Japanese Empire, and after Japan lost the war, the allied nations divided Korea into two nations: North Korea, influenced by the Soviet Union; and South Korea, influenced by the United States. The borders between the two new states was set as the 38th parallel, creating two states roughly the same size. This deal made no one happy, however, and both young nations wanted control over the entirety of the Korean peninsula, and on 25 June, 1950, scarcely five years after World War II ended, the nation of North Korea invaded the South. Initially, North Korea was very successful in its invasion, and in only two months captured most of South Korea, including South Korea's capital-Seoul (Alexander).
Afraid to lose its stronghold in Asia, America and NATO intervened, and after winning a series of decisive victories against the North Koreans, including a massive amphibious landing at the South Korean city of Incheon that encircled most of the North Korean army, they were able to push the North Koreans back to the 38th parallel (Alexander).
Through this war so far, China had stayed neutral, supporting its Communist ally of North Korea only politically. However, the NATO supreme command in Korea at that time, General Douglas MacArthur, after crushing the North Korean army, decided that Korea should be unified under South Korean rule instead. So he ordered his armies to cross the 38th parallel and march through North Korea to the border with China. Because of their superior technology and numbers, NATO troops sliced through North Korea with ease, and most of North Korea was liberated from Communist rule within just twenty days. NATO troops even reached the border with China in some places (Alexander).
The Chinese government, threatened that the western powers would border with China, issued an ultimatum requesting all NATO troops to evacuate North Korea. And when General MacArthur refused, the Chinese intervened. And on October 19, 1950, the first Chinese "Volunteers" entered Korea to fight against NATO forces (Alexander).
(Just a side note here, although they were the major players in the war, neither the Americans nor the Chinese officially declared war. In America and the west the war was seen as "Police Action in Asia" and part of the effort to "Contain Communism"; and in China the war was seen as a war to save North Korea and resist the "Capitalist-Imperialist" west (PE]))
The introduction of the Chinese forces turned the tide, and NATO forces was once against pushed past the 38th Parallel into South Korea, however, the Chinese achieved this victory only because of their superior manpower. The Chinese forces won battles by using human-wave tactics, manually overwhelming the enemy with far superior numbers. So every victory for the Chinese forces came at a great cost in terms of life (Alexander).
Eventually, after three years of fighting and millions of death on both sides, an armistice was signed, thus ending the Korean War. The Korean War had a massive impact on relations between China and the United States because they were the two main belligerents in the war. The Chinese people and government developed a fanatical hate of the United States and reflected it with their propaganda, my Dad recalls propaganda calling for the destruction of the United States well up to the 1980s. The United States on the other hand, angered by Chinese intervention in Korea, funded numerous (and still funds today) separatist groups and groups advocating the fall of the Communist government (Alexander).
This video shows the daily changes in front lines from the beginning of the Korean war to its end.
After the Korean war ended, China and the United States continued their hostilities against each other. The United States also sent the 6th fleet to block the Taiwan Strait to prevent the mainland Chinese from invading Taiwan and completely reunifying China, and act that angers many Chinese people to this day. In 1954, to protest American intervention in Taiwan, and to test American commitment to protect Taiwan, the Chinese government attempted an amphibious invasion of the islands between Taiwan and the mainland, most of which was controlled by the Nationalists when they retreated to Taiwan. This was called the First Taiwan Strait Crisis, and it led to massive American intervention to protect the Nationalists. Although the Communists managed to capture some minor islands between China and Taiwan, they failed in their ultimate goal in capturing all of Taiwan (Taiwan).
Three years after the First Taiwan Strait Crisis ended, the Communists tried to invade Taiwan again, called the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis. This time, due to fast American intervention and experience from the First Taiwan Strait Crisis, the Chinese gained nothing and were pushed back (Taiwan). The two Taiwan Strait Crisis cemented hostilities between the two countries, and no diplomatics improvements were made until after the Sino-Soviet Split (PE).
Chinese Anti-American propaganda from the 1950s, when Sino-American relations was at its worst. Note that the American person is depicted like a monster with sharp fingers standing on ruins.
Relations between China and the United States after the Sino-Soviet Split (1964-1982):
To simplify its contents, this section of the Blog Post will use some technical terms:
Cult of Personality-By using propaganda, misinformation, and state-run media, a state can present its leader in a god-like way to its people in order to control them. Such as how the animals practically worshipped Napoleon in "Animal Farm".
Stalinism-A form of Communism made popular by Joseph Stalin, this form of Communism features massive collectivization by the state (the states owns everything), rapid industrialization without any regard for its cost, and a cult of personality towards its leader.
Mao Zedong [毛泽东] (December 26, 1983 - September 9, 1976)-The leader of Communist China for most of its existence, although he is responsible for most deaths than Hitler or Stalin, he was able to reform China from a weak and divided nation to a modern superpower.
[The sport of Ping-Pong/Table-Tennis will be referred to as "Ping-Pong" throughout this blog post, although specific events that include "Table Tennis" in its name will retain its original name]
Remember how earlier in this blog post I talked about the Soviets helping the Communists a lot during the Chinese Civil War? Well, the Soviets wanted to treat China as just another Soviet puppet state. However, China's dictator at that time, Mao, wanted to be a true world leader that was independent from any outside rule. So he resisted any attempts by the Soviets to exert influence on Chinese Politics, this angered the Soviets, but not enough to cause the actual split (PE).
After Joseph Stalin, longtime dictator of the Soviet Union died in March 5, 1953, relations between China and the Soviet Union only got worse. Stalin's death was followed by a power struggle between Gregory Malenkov-An adamant Stalinist supporter, and Nikita Khrushchev. Although Gregory Malenkov initially took power due to his close relationship with Stalin, he was quickly deposed by Nikita Khrushchev, who had the support of the army (PE).
The new Soviet Leader, Nikita Khrushchev, who took power on February 8, 1955, despised Joseph Stalin and Stalinism, and he made no effort to hide his beliefs. On February 25, 1956, Khrushchev made his famous "Secret Speech", in which he denounced Stalin's cult of personality and Stalinism in front of every single Communist Leader in the Soviet Union and the leaders/diplomats of most Communist Nations (Khrushchev). This speech made Khrushchev a lot of friends, especially from people who were afraid that Khrushchev would become a tyrant like Stalin (PE), but not Mao, Mao was terrified by that speech (Chang).
Why was Mao terrified? Because establishing a cult of personality and usage of Stalinism-Communism was exactly was Mao was doing in China. Mao was afraid that Khrushchev's new plan of denouncing Stalinism will lead to him getting deposed or weakened (Chang). But instead of going with Khrushchev and changing his ways, Mao simply chose to stamp out any influence the Soviet Union had in China, therefore making a pro-Khrushchev coup impossible. Mao achieved this by expelling some (but not all) Russians who had ties to the Soviet Spy System, and publicly refuting Khrushchev's claims about the Negative effects of Stalinism and the Cult of Personality (Si). Mao was also afraid that this "Secret Speech" will lead to many Chinese Communist officials to rethink Mao's rule and thus destabilize his regime, so he banned any news of the speech in China and silenced anyone who dared to mention it (Sino). This marked the beginning of the Sino-Soviet Split.
As the years passed, the Sino-Soviet Split grew, the date I set for the Sino-Soviet Rift was 1964, when the Soviet Union and all of its puppet states broke diplomatic relations with China, but in reality the split has been widening slowly and slowly for years. I'm not going to list the specific events that made the Soviets and the Chinese Communists pissed off at each other, but just know that eventually relations got so bad that the Soviets had more troops at its border with China than it had with NATO (Kissinger).
"On the Cult of Personality and its Consequences" the one speech that eventually lead to the Sino-Soviet Rift. It is also one of the most read and praised speeches by any Soviet leader.
The actual speech by Nikita Khrushchev, rather long but definitely worth a read. Teaches you a lot about power struggles and the nature of humanity.
The Sino-Soviet Rift was fundamental to the modern cooperation between China and the United States, without the Soviet Union, China had lost its most powerful ally, so in order to forge new alliances, China turned to the United States (PE).
On April 6, 1971, the US ping-pong team in the 31st World Table Tennis Championships received an invite to visit China and compete there, the visit was a huge public relations success for China. As China reopened its borders to foreigners after nearly thirty years of isolationism. Soon after the visit, the United States lifted its embargo of China, sparking the modern trade system between China and the US (Kissinger).
This visit also paved the way for Nixon's visit of China just one year later.
President Nixon's historic visit to China in 1972 was the starting point for the modern relations between China and the United States.
The Sino-Soviet Rift had not gone unnoticed, as a matter of fact, most of the world was quite aware of what was going on after the Soviet Union broke off diplomatic relations with China (Ford). Many countries wanted to be able to use this to its advantage but no country was quite as eager as the United States to capitalize on the divide between its two biggest enemies, China and the Soviet Union. And when Mao invited the American Ping-Pong team to China, President Richard Nixon took that as a sign that China was willing, if not to ally with the United States, at least to improve relations between the two nations. That is why on February 21, 1972, Nixon officially visited China and reopened relations between the two countries (Kissinger).
The meeting, which covered many topics, resolved many important issues between China and the United States, such as the issue of Taiwan, United States's recognition of mainland China, future trade between the two countries, a potential military alliance between the two countries against the Soviet Union. Nixon's meetings greatly reduced tensions and improved relations between China and the United States and opened a diplomatic channel that has been closed for around thirty years (Kissinger).
I can't stress enough how important this meeting was, from the Communists' victory in the Chinese Civil War to the day Nixon came, the country of China had lived in a diplomatic isolationism similar to that of North Korea today. Nixon's visit however, opened the floodgates of Chinese diplomacy, soon after Nixon's visit the leaders of other nations also came and established relations with China (PE).
China has returned to the world stage.
Relations between China and the United States after Deng Xiaoping's Reforms (1982-Present Day):
After Mao died on September 9, 1976, there was a brief power struggle over his successor, and Hua Guofeng took power. Hua was a moderate reformer that implemented a number of economic reforms to China's economy, such as loosening the monopoly the Chinese government had on trade and commerce in China. But real reform did not come until Hua retired in 1982 and Deng Xiaoping took power, Deng Xiaoping's reforms to China dramatically changed both the livelihoods of the average Chinese citizen, and China's relations with other countries, especially the United States (PE).
Premier Deng Xiaoping was the paramount leader of the People's Republic of China from September 13, 1982, to November 2, 1987. Although serving for barely five years, his reforms managed to turn China from a primarily rural state with low standards of living to a modern economic superpower.
As the graph shows, trade between China and the United States exploded after Deng's reforms were implemented.
I will not go into Deng's reforms in detail, but they include massive redistribution of government property among the people; encouragement of savings and entrepreneurship among Chinese Citizens; fighting corruption; and just in general turning China's economy from a Communist monopoly into a modern capitalist economy.
The reforms worked, better than anyone expected. Ask any Chinese people who lived through this time period and they'll tell you of the tremendous change China gone through during that period of time. Of course, a growing economy also means growing trade. China began to trade with its neighbors more and more after the reforms, especially with the United States. The graph above shows the amount of trade between China and the United States after Deng's reforms. In just a few years China's trade relationship with the United States had gone from almost nothing to America's third biggest trading partner (PE).
Deng's reforms also called for increased cooperation with other countries, and now China's leaders and US leaders meet regularly to speak on issues such as Climate Change and Trade. This increased diplomatic activity have also leader to greater understanding and relations between the two countries (PE).
However, there are problems as well, the Chinese government, under pressure from its people, are getting increasingly aggressive in its territorial claims. And recent issues on North Korea and the trade deficit between China and the United States threaten to divide these two nations once again. What will happen next? Will China and the United States solve their problems and resume relations? Or will such conflicts drive them farther apart?
It is easy to look at history from afar, analysing the actions of world leaders and the people are easy through the lens of foresight. However, things becomes much more complicated when you're actually living through history, as we are now. I did not elaborate much on this final section of this blog post because, well, it's still happening, and we really don't know what's about to happen next.
I'm sorry for such a long post but even with this length I'm simplifying by a lot. Now that you know the basics of the entire history between China and the United States, I can move on to explain to you current relations between these nations.
See you next month!
Things I learned in Chinese History Classes and from my parents and other Chinese people will be cited as "PE" for "Person Experience". Take all information from "PE" with a grain of salt however, as some of it might be Chinese propaganda or folk exaggeration.
Alexander, Bevin. Korea, The First War We Lost. New York: Hippocrene, 2004. Print.
Anti-American Propaganda Poster. Digital Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017
Chang, Jung, and Jon Halliday. Mao: The Unknown Story. New York: Knopf, 2005. Print
Chinese Civil War Part I: Every Fortnight. Dir/By. Emperortigerstar. YouTube, 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.
Chinese Civil War Part II: Every Day. Dir/By. Emperortigerstar. YouTube, 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.
Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping. Digital Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017
Chinese Propaganda Poster. Digital Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017
Emperortigerstar. Beginning of Chinese Civil War. Digital image. Chinese Civil War Part II: Every Day. YouTube, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
Emperortigerstar. June 12th 1947. Digital image. Chinese Civil War Part II: Every Day. YouTube, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
Emperortigerstar. March 14th 1948. Digital image. Chinese Civil War Part II: Every Day. YouTube, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
Emperortigerstar. February 06th 1949. Digital image. Chinese Civil War Part II: Every Day. YouTube, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
Emperortigerstar. July 09th 1949. Digital image. Chinese Civil War Part II: Every Day. YouTube, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
Emperortigerstar. December 13th 1949. Digital image. Chinese Civil War Part II: Every Day. YouTube, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
Emperortigerstar. End of Chinese Civil War. Digital image. Chinese Civil War Part II: Every Day. YouTube, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
Fighting in Chinese City. Digital Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017
Ford, Harold P. "Calling the Sino-Soviet Split." Central Intelligence Agency. Federal Government of the United States, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
Hagen, Jerome T. War in the Pacific. I ed. Vol. I. Michigan: Malloy, 2006. Print. America at War.
History.com Staff "Soviets Declare war on Japan; Invade Manchuria" This Day in History. History.com, 2015. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
Khrushchev, Nikita. "On the Cult of Personality and its Consequences." Speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Russian Duma Building, Moscow. 25 Feb. 1956. Speech.
Kissinger, Henry. On China. New York: Penguin, 2011. Print.
Kucha, G., and Llewellyn J. "The Chinese Civil War." The Chinese Revolution. Alpha History, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
Kucha, G., and Llewellyn J. "The Warlord Era." The Chinese Revolution. Alpha History, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
"Lesson 3: The Origins of the Cold War." EDcitement. National Endowment for the Humanities, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.
Nixon's visit to China. Digital Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017
Political Map of China. Digital Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017
Russian Federation. "On the Cult of Personality and its Consequences". Digital Image. Russian Federation, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017
"Sino-Soviet Split" National Cold War Exhibition. Royal Air Force Museum, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
"Si - Sino Soviet Split" Encyclopedia of Marxism. Marxists Internet Archive, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
The Korean War: Every Day. Dir/By. Emperortigerstar. YouTube, 13 Dec. 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.
"The Taiwan Straits Crises: 1954-55 and 1958" Milestones: 1953-1960. Encyclopedia.com, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
"Harry S. Truman" Wikipedia.com. The Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.
US-China Trade Over Time. Digital Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017
"U.S. Involvement in the Chinese Civil War" The Oxford Companion to American Military History. Encyclopedia.com, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.
You're Crossing the 38th Parallel. Digital Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2017
Relations between China and the United States during the Second Sino-Japanese war and World War (July 7, 1937-September 9, 1945):
During World War Two, China was the first allied nation to enter the war, China's entrance and participation in World War Two can be divided into two sections, the first section-"The Second-Sino Japanese War", covers the duration of the war and the relations between the two countries before the Pearl Harbor Attack and America's entry into the war; the second section-"Chinese Theater of World War II", which covers the duration of the war and relations between China and the US after the Pearl Harbor Attack and America's entry into the war. But before I talk about the war itself, here are some pictures and one video to visually demonstrate what the war in China was like.
Map of China during World War II when the fighting was most intense (1945):