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Like Nixon, Trump Has the Opportunity to Build a New U.S.-China Framework

Dr. Michael Pillsbury

By Michael Pillsbury (original source Newsweek)

“It may have come a decade or two late, but the United States is undergoing the most dramatic reappraisal of our relationship with the People’s Republic of China since the famous “opening” pursued by President Richard Nixon nearly 50 years ago. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is traveling to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum today to offer a glimpse of America’s overhaul of its grand strategy toward China.

There is no issue Donald Trump has been more concerned about over the three decades since the end of the Cold War, in his speeches and writing, than the urgent need to rebalance U.S.-China relations. With sharp campaign rhetoric in 2016 and constant tweets, President Trump has elevated Chinese economic and military aggression as the long-term threats to U.S. interests that they pose. His administration has worked to translate that into a comprehensive strategy, though later in his first term than many of us had hoped.

Some blame President Nixon for helping put China on its path to power in the first place, by first ushering it into the modern community of nations. But the situation was more complicated than that. There is still a great deal we don’t know about what really went on during the opening of China in the early 1970s. The Chinese have never released any meeting transcripts or archival documents from their side. And the American account remains mostly reliant on Henry Kissinger’s recollections and documents, many of which he has not yet released.”

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