The evolving consensus : the development of U.S. China policy between 1959 and 1972 and the domestic influences on it
This thesis is a study of the domestic influences that led to President Nixon's decision to seek a new US relationship with the People's Republic of China. In particular, it concentrates on the role of academics in forcing a policy debate on China policy and the crucial role that they played in creating the environment that led to eventual change. The thesis argues that during the 1960s a climate was created that made it necessary for Nixon to change policy and that traditional accounts of the subject have failed to fully appreciate the role of domestic factors in forcing a change of policy. This thesis throws light on three areas. Firstly, the development of US China policy in the post-war years leading up to 1971 and in particular the domestic influences placed on it. A notable argument of the piece is that many of the policies later adopted by Nixon were discussed and promoted during the Presidency of John F. Kennedy and that in the last year of his life active consideration was given to changing policy. Secondly, it is a study of Sino-American relations in the 1960s, which shows the extent to which it was subject to domestic politics. Finally, it is an exploration of the role of interested academics and the way that they were able to influence US policy in such a sensitive area and the different methods that they used to affect and alter policy. The study has made use of a number of primary archival source holdings in the United States as well as the transcripts of Congressional hearings and studies commissioned by the US Government during the period that informed its China policy. Also, it has made full use of the secondary sources available on Sino-American relations.