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Title: U.S. maritime policy in Cold War East Asia, 1945-1979
Author: Chen, Kuan-Jen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7661 157X
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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Drawing on primary sources in Chinese, Japanese, and English, my doctoral dissertation investigates the structure and development of maritime order in East Asia against the backdrop of the Cold War. It covers the period from the collapse of the Japanese empire in East Asia in 1945 through to the point when the United States broke off its official diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979. By shifting the spotlight from land to sea, my dissertation challenges the conventional understanding of the Cold War in East Asia by illustrating the relationship between the geopolitical value of the sea and decision makers' strategic deliberations. I present the sea as a historical platform to examine US maritime policy in East Asia in three broad contexts: military, international law, and exploration for natural resources. In terms of the military dimension, my study argues that the US shifted its maritime strategic focus from the Atlantic to the Pacific in the 1950s. This development was symbolised by the establishment of the Pacific Command in 1947 as well as changes in its organisational structure for maintaining sea routes during the crises of the 1950s - including the Korean War and the 1954-1955 Taiwan Strait Crisis. To supplement my argument about the military dimension of US maritime policy, I further investigate the establishment of international maritime law and the exploration of underwater natural resources, to depict the dynamic role that seas played in grand strategic thinking when crafting US policy in East Asia. My research argues that the clashes over maritime sovereignty between East Asian allies such as Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea led the US to refrain from taking a dominant stance in areas such as the demarcation of maritime boundaries and offshore oil development. This formed a crucial part of US strategy in balancing conflicting interests within its hub-and-spoke alliance system in East Asia. However, US-China rapprochement during the 1970s led to a change in Washington's maritime policy. For US decision-makers, the sea temporarily ceased to be a strategic space for containing China, but rather served as a platform for signalling goodwill.
Supervisor: Preston, Andrew Sponsor: European Research Council ; British Association for Japanese Studies ; University of Cambridge ; Institute of Modern History ; Academia Sinica ; Taiwan The Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation ; Taiwan The Japan Foundation ; Japan Adams Centre ; Virginia Military Institute ; US
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Cold War ; International History ; American History ; East Asian History