Holes in the dam
French recognition and the Chinese nuclear test, 1963–64
in Piercing the bamboo curtain
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This chapter explores how China figured in Lyndon Baines Johnson's worldview as he assumed the presidency, and the events in 1964 – French recognition and the Chinese nuclear test – that steadily undermined the policy he inherited. Johnson's predilection for preserving intact US China policy stemmed from an article of faith that governed his general approach to foreign affairs, and he approached foreign policy from a decidedly negative and defensive perspective. French recognition presented a quandary to many of America's allies, and also stirred concern in Tokyo that Japan's clout in Asia would wane if it continued to remain allied to Taiwan. The growing likelihood of a Chinese nuclear test confronted Washington with the prospect of another diplomatic coup for the People's Republic of China (PRC) and further tensions with its Western partners. Johnson approved a number of initiatives aimed at prolonging the PRC's isolation.

Piercing the bamboo curtain

Tentative bridge-building to China during the Johnson years

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