History Department
History Department

IHS Workshop: “The New Open-Door Constituents: U.S.-Chinese Rapprochement at the Grassroots,” by Kazushi Minami, University of Texas at Austin (New Work in Progress Series)

Tue, January 23, 2018 | GAR 4.100

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Drawing on American and Chinese sources, this paper explores the cultural origins of the reconstruction of U.S.-Chinese relations in the second half of the Cold War. It challenges the widespread assumption that Sino-American rapprochement in the 1970s, exemplified by Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1972, was primarily a product of the shared U.S. and Chinese security interest against the Soviet Union. This paper argues, instead, that the social changes in both countries in the late 1960s—the culmination of the antiwar movement and counterculture in the United States and the drastic reversal of the Cultural Revolution in China—engendered domestic momentum for a new “open-door” policy aimed at restoring bilateral contacts. 

The United States and China had been in hostile isolation against each other since the Korean War. The growing disillusionment with the Vietnam War, however, prompted U.S. foreign policy critics, including religious leaders, feminists, civil rights activists, and China scholars, to initiate grassroots movements to demand a new China policy. Established in 1966, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations spearheaded this development by holding seminars, creating pamphlets, and lobbying the government to improve Sino-American relations. Although Chinese youth with revolutionary zeal spread anti-Americanism throughout the country during the Cultural Revolution, their sudden crackdown in 1968 precipitated the onset of Chinse modernization and internationalization, which promoted economic, educational, and cultural ties with capitalist countries, including the United States. The rise of the new open-door constituents in the United States and China fostered post-Cold War culture in the 1970s in which Americans and Chinese cultivated various channels of bilateral exchange. This paper is the first chapter of my dissertation, titled “Rebuilding the Special Relationship: Public Diplomacy, Non-Governmental Exchanges, and the Reconstruction of U. S.-Chinese Relations, 1964-1980.” The following chapters examine specific areas in exchange programs—trade, science and technology, education, tourism, and sports— focusing on the socio-economic forces in the United States and China in the 1970s that fostered bilateral cooperation before the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1979.

Kazushi Minami is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department and a graduate fellow at the William P. Clements Jr. Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in U.S. diplomatic history and modern East Asia. His dissertation, titled "Rebuilding the Special Relationship: Public Diplomacy, Non-Governmental Exchanges, and the Reconstruction of U. S.-Chinese Relations, 1964-1980," explores the role of informal diplomacy in the improvement of U.S.-Chinese relations during the second half of the Cold War. His research in the United States and China has been supported by the Institute of International Education, the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Kounosuke Matsushita Memorial Foundation, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, the Rockefeller Archive Center, and the D. Kim Foundation.

Read more about Kazushi Minami and his work at: 

Jeremi Suri
Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs,
University of Texas at Austin

Chair and Coordinator, New Work in Progress Series:
Eyal Weinberg
Ph.D. Candidate in the History Department
University of Texas at Austin

Free and open to the public. Please RSVP to cmeador@austin.utexas.edu to sign-up to attend and received the pre-circulated paper. Refreshments provided.

View the complete New Work in Progress Series for 2017-2018:

Sponsored by: Institute for Historical Studies in the Department of History

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