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WHILE PAT Nixon was swapping Musk oxen for Panda bears and sampling the cuisine in the kitchen of the Peking Hotel, the President bartered away Taiwan in exchange for a ticket to ride until '76.
The Media Men caught it all--live TV in color via satellite. What they failed to show behind the spray paint veneer was the burial of the old containment policy ideology.
The tronies and absurdities were all there, befitting such a grand show. There stood Richard Nixon stalwart of Dulles's moribund cold war strategy of the fifties shaking hands with Premier Chou En-lat and Chairman Mao Tse-tung and reciting quotations from Mao himself (even if only from his poems). Equally absurd to see was Chiang Ching, ultra-leftist leader of the Cultural Revolution and wife of Mao, flanked by the Nixons at "The Red Detachment of Women" showing at Peking's Great Hall of the People.
Middle America was treated to a first-class TV farce. The commentators nightly huddled together with nothing to say, waiting for Press Secretary Ziegler to bail them out once again with another vapid press release praising the Chinese hospitality the analogy of the week award was given to one clever reporter who thought that China was more intriguing than the moon. But every one agreed that Erik Sevareid topped it with his continuous mane mutterings that the Chinese educational system was calculated to destroy the minds of Chinese youth. (Sound familiar?) But the Nixons did try to show their appreciation Pat Nixon, dutifully fulfilled her material duties by falling in love with the children and the food "I love Chinese cooking anywhere in the world but it's especially good in China."
EACH SIDE expected some gains from the talks Nixon came to negotiate the basis for a post-Vietnam Asian alliance. The Chinese wanted Taiwan returned And each sought new trade agreements.
America essentially negotiated out of weakness despite all the media hype. As the late Edgar Snow reported, the Chinese believe that the failures of the Cambodians and Laotian invasions led Nixon to recognize his ultimate defeat in S.E. Asia and of the strategies of containment and enticement. With intensive "protective reaction air strikes" as Nixon and Kissinger's only weapon to assure negotiation credibility, Asians recognize that America's bombing policy is an empty threat--though a threat nonetheless. While Nixon and Kissinger are banking on this continued genocide to get them out of S.E. Asia, somehow, short of complete capitulation, they realize that some long-range policies are needed.
The Cultural Revolution and subsequent stability allowed the Chinese unprecedented strength and confidence. According to B.U. Professor Ishwer C. Ojha, who recently returned from a month visit to China with the Committee for a New China Policy, China has rethought foreign policy strategy since '68. In view of the notable lack of third world struggles and the failures of others, in particular in Palestine, Ojha points out "there is now a post '68 emphasis on state to state relations through bilateral negotiations."
The Chinese view their major threat (or contradiction) as Russian's encirclement. Mao outlined the theory of dealing with major and minor contradictions in the "Thirties with the United Front strategy. Viewing the problem in terms of dialectics. Mao's tacties relied on alliances with the minor enemy--or "contradiction" (at that time, Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist forces) to combat the major contradiction (in that case, Japanese imperialism). This is the theoretical grounding for China's detente with America--a supposed enemy. While American imperialism has now been reduced to a minor contradiction. Chou told Ross Terrill of Harvard last July in Peking that Soviet leaders are "successors of Dulles." China's fear of Russia has led to a seriously myopic stand on Bangladesh. They are seriously rethinking their analysis that Russia's support of India was the primary contradiction while the reactionary Pakistan government was only the minor one.
Both the Chinese and Americans have shown a common interest in regaining ground lost to Russia during the Sixties. Russia has stood as the principal beneficiary of China's diplomatic isolation and America's quagmire in Vietnam. While China views the Russian threat in terms of encirclement, America's concern is on a more global scale commensurate with its wider influence.
Increase of trade will bring substantial gains for both America and China. Ojha received a clear impression from his trip that the Chinese are embarking on an intensive industrialization campaign in the countryside. The People's Republic is now prepared to pay for specific industrial goods needed for modernization. But professors Benjamin Schwartz and Ojha are quick to stress that this does not mean the Chinese are now going to rely on foreign trade to prop up the economy as was the case with Russian aid in the early Fifties.
To American investors. Chinese represents a vast untapped source of new markets. One drug company executive summed up the American attitude, saying, "If we sell each of them (every individual in China) one aspirin, then that's selling a lot of aspirin." On February 14, just before his departure. Nixon removed from the embargo list many goods China had shown interest in buying but which had been blocked by Pentagon objections. These items included locomotives, internal combustion engines, and other industrial equipment.
WHILE NIXON'S short talks with Chou only settled details of Kissinger's intensive negotiations of last summer and fall, substantial results were achieved.
The Chinese obtained significant concessions from Nixon and Kissinger, most particularly on Taiwan. These were a precondition to negotiation as the late Edgar Snow has reported. Ross Terrill hinted recently in the Atlantic magazine that last July in Peking Kissinger agreed in principle to the Chinese demands on the Taiwan question. Specifically, America agreed in the joint communique issued on February 27 in Shanghai.
The United States acknowledges that all Chinese...maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves. With this prospect in mind it affirms the ultimate objective of the withdrawal of all US forces and military installations from Taiwan. In the meantime, it will progressively reduce its forces and military installations on Taiwan as the tension of the area diminishes (emphasis added)
In essence America abandons its claim to any say on the final status of Taiwan and agrees to let this internal question be settled "by the Chinese themselves on a bilateral basis. The Chinese were generous in their return concessions. Nothing at all was mentioned about America's defense commitments to Taiwan of 1955. That China allows the old treaty to stand bails Nixon out of a jam with the far-Right at home already up in arms over what William F. Buckley has charged in his syndicated column "a staggering capitulation" on the Taiwan question.
In this connection the Chinese have apparently quietly agreed not to take Taiwan by force (an extremely difficult military campaign to begin with) in return for America's public commitment to remove all its forces (a process that his in fact been going on since Nixon came into office). The Chinese have also let Nixon set his own time table of withdrawal from Taiwan in conjunction with the Vietnam pull out. This is the meaning of the phrase, "tension in the area," (i.e., the War) as interpreted by Secretary of State William Rogers.
THE PRESS played up Nixon's trip as a big victory--and in a sense it was. He met the "Red Menace" head on in a tete-a-tete affair reasonably conceding failures of cold war policy and military defeat to the enemy and yet coming out of it all as the big front-runner for the November elections. Once again he proved himself to be a true media wizard by his quiet, almost unnoticed, burial of the Dulles-Rusk containment ideology. The basis of this strategy rested on a lie: the creation of the fear that the Communist Chinese would spread their influence on a global scale with countries turning red like falling dominoes. With this threat starting in Vietnam, it would surely reach the American shores very quickly. Dullex continued to argue that it must be stopped at its inception--in Vietnam. But in the communique both sides agreed, "Neither should seek hegemony in the Asian-Pacific region." So Nixon could claim at home that he solved the Vietnam war (in Peking just as everyone claimed he would), stopped the "Yellow Hordes" from seeking to extend their influence (there is no evidence to suppose that they had tried in the first place), and pacified the Dragon.
For the Chinese it was an equally big moral victory. Besides the return of their last province. America agreed to negotiate on the basis of the five principles of co-existence that the Chinese first established in 1955 and have been using for the past seventeen years to conduct state to state relations.
As a result of the renewed contacts with America, other countries have flocked to recognize China and establish full diplomatic ties. Canada led the way last summer soon after the announcement of Nixon's trip, and earlier this week England abandoned Taiwan to place diplomatic relations with the People's Republic at full ambassadorial level.
With Nixon's concessions on Taiwan in hand, the Chinese served notice last week of its legal claim to Hong Kong and Macao. Using the same formula arrived at with Nixon, they are claiming that this is an internal Chinese matter, U.N. ambassador, Huang Hua, requested no U.N. intervention on the issue such as from the U.N. Decolonization Committee.
THE SINO-AMERICAN detente presents the problem of new Asian alliances based on a series of mutual constraints on the part of allies. This Asian picture is ideal for Kissinger's power politics manipulation mentality. But for the present, allies of both sides fear sell outs. The most heated cries come from the North Vietnamese and Japanese.
After seeing China and Russia sell their interests down the McKong in the Geneva conventions of 1954 and '61 (which created a supposedly neutral Laos as a buffer zone to protect Thailand from North Vietnam), the North Vietnamese have legitimate reasons to fear another big power settlement. Only Russia can protect them from a China deal, and only China can rescue them from a similar fate at the hands of the Russians. The Nixon trip brought out anew all these hostilities.
The Chinese have shown that their interests are not the same as the Vietnamese but that they will not pull another sell out. Seeing the Chinese receive the number one enemy of the people of Vietnam and play some part in allowing Nixon to conduct such showy display to help his own political fortunes indicates the differences in national interests. Also on the Taiwan question, Chou is letting over 8,000 American troops remain for some indefinite period of time even though 6,000 of them are used in Vietnam related activities. Despite his recent statement reported by Prince Sihanouk, that peace in Vietnam takes priority over the final resolution of the Taiwan question, he is powerless to stop the use of the island as a staging area for America's war effort.
Contradictions aside, the Chinese have essentially behaved properly as an ally. On February 18, just before Nixon's arrival and on March 10. Hsinhua (The Peking Daily) blasted Nixon's intensive bombing, charging him with continued "global aggression." In these statements as well as in the joint communique, they reiterated their support for the Vietnamese struggle and the seven point peace plan. More important than the official statements was the Chinese refusal to discuss anything other than bilateral Sino-American problems during the Nixon visit. Chou was able to convince the North Vietnamese in Hanoi last week that he will continue to refuse to act as any sort of mediator of a peace plan. Finally, Ojha points out that the Chinese have done much to smooth out tensions between North Vietnam's allies and keep together a united S.E. Asian movement; for example, Chou's visit to Hanoi last week came at the end of Prince Sihanouk's three-week trip there and produced a successful joint communique reaffirming Sihanouk's position as "great friend of the Vietnamese people" and rightful ruler of Cambodia.
JAPANESE-AMERICAN relations have also suffered at the hands of the Sino-American detente. Japan, continually put in the position of following American initiatives, is now free to seek an independent China policy if it so desires. But independence from the American umbrella is a step few of our allies are yet willing to take.
The Chinese have shown signs that they would rather conduct relations with Japan, as with other countries, on a bilateral basis and not through America. The Shanghai communique reaffirmed China's desire to see "an independent, democratic, peaceful and neutral Japan." Chou even went so far last week to hint that if would be a positive step for Japan to create a small self-defense military force.
The Chinese have also sought better trade relations with Japan; for example, while insisting on negotiating on the basis of the five principles of co-existence, they dropped their long-standing demand that Japan agree to reparations payments as a precondition for talks. On March 10 the first Chinese trade delegation in six years arrived in Tokyo to open a new round of discussions.
While Presidential aide Marshal Green reassured the Japanese that America made no secret deals behind the backs of our allies, Japanese-American relations remain unsteady. This new fluidity may epitomize the type of Asian alliances Kissinger sought to create by the Nixon trip.
In total, the Chinese showed that it might still be possible for a socialist country to establish a detente with the capitalist enemy without selling out its allies in the process. For America a quick trip to Peking or a couple of new alliances will not solve our deep domestic and international problems. While Nixon might have gotten himself a better shot at reelection, he was pushing cosmetics and the Chinese knew it. But at least he proved that he can sell even that to the American public.
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