23.1 The Shanghai Communique

(important diplomatic document), page 461

This primary source explains the shape of China’s foreign policy. By 1970 Mao was deeply worried about the continuous buildup of Soviet troops on China’s border, that’s why it was important for him. In February 1972 Nixon visits China and meets with Mao Zedong and Nixon signed the document with Premier Zhou Enlai. In this statement, the US and China agreed to disagree about the previous matters, while pursuing mutual beneficial goals.  Other principles of the Shanghai Communique were:

  • Normalization of relations between China and the US, which was also beneficial for other countries in the world.
  • They both wanted to reduce danger of international military conflict.
  • Neither should seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region and make sure that no other establishes such hegemony.
  • Neither should negotiate on behalf of any third party.

They also made progress on the Taiwan question, which also normalized the relation between China and the US. The US acknowledged it as an internal affair in which no other country has the right to interfere.

During the meetings, The Chinese side stated: ‘’China will never be a superpower and it opposes hegemony and power politics of any kind. The Chinese side also stated to support oppressed people and nations for freedom and liberation. The US stated that they wanted to secure peace in Asia, support individual freedom and social progress for all peoples of the world, without intervention. Communication between countries that have different ideologies will reduce tensions. Something the US determine was that the people of Indochina should be allowed to determine what they want without outside intervention. However, the United States will still support the Republic of Korea. This is to prevent any tensions and make sure that that is communication between the North and South. Both US and China wanted to discuss areas like science, technology and sports, this would broaden a better understanding between the countries. Also, equal bilateral trade would also be beneficial for both countries. There was also more contact after the meetings, for example a senior U. S. Representative was send to Peking every now and then for consolations.

 A positive result of this agreement was a basis for the normalization of relations with China during the Carter administration. Another thing that happened in the early 70s was the so called ‘’Ping Pong’’ policy. The American ping pong team was invited to visit China and play the Chinese ping pong team. This was very special because no group of Americans had been invited to China since the Communist takeover in 1949. Shortly after the Ping Pong policy the United Nations recognize the Peoples Republic of China. In 1971 the UN endowed China with a permanent Security Council seat, before it was hold by Taiwan since 1945.


Do you think the Ping Pong policy was most beneficial for relation between the US and China? And looking back what could the US and China have done better to improve their relation?

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