Bridge-building in limbo
The impact of the Cultural Revolution, 1966–67
in Piercing the bamboo curtain
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This chapter addresses how the administration interpreted the outbreak of virtual civil war on the mainland, and examines why bridge-building was relegated to a state of limbo at this time. The Cultural Revolution stemmed from Mao Zedong's ‘restless quest for revolutionary purity in a postrevolutionary age’. Mao's fear of creeping revisionism at home was conditioned in large part by his reading of concurrent events in the Soviet Union. Recent studies have confirmed that the Cultural Revolution exercised significant influence on the conduct of Chinese foreign relations. Lyndon Baines Johnson and his advisers implicitly agreed with Zbigniew Brzezinski's diagnosis for peace in Vietnam, yet disagreed with his suggested remedy of a policy of ambiguity towards the People's Republic of China. The sole focus of Mao's Cultural Revolution was internal transformation. The Johnson team hoped that a combination of American military muscle and Soviet diplomatic pressure would prod Hanoi towards the conference table.

Piercing the bamboo curtain

Tentative bridge-building to China during the Johnson years

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