Staying firm
John F. Kennedy’s China policy, 1961–63
in Piercing the bamboo curtain
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This chapter presents a broad overview of America's approach to China prior to November 1963, concentrating on the John F. Kennedy (JFK) years. The administration's handling of Chinese representation in the United Nations, food relief and Beijing's nuclear weapons program is dealt with. A ‘closed door’ policy served as a tool of coercion, designed to secure any eventual reconciliation with China strictly on American terms by withholding recognition and trade until the Chinese had learned how to ‘behave’. JFK's fear of a nuclear China was intense and long standing. Washington could stem the loss of international support for Taiwan and bolster its justification for containing the People's Republic of China (PRC). The short-term legacy of Kennedy's antagonistic dealings with China was decidedly negative. Camelot's record cast an imposing shadow for an insecure successor set on hewing as close as possible to the inherited line in foreign affairs.

Piercing the bamboo curtain

Tentative bridge-building to China during the Johnson years

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