Patterns in the Dust: Chinese-American Relations and the Recognition Controversy, 1949-1950

Patterns in the Dust: Chinese-American Relations and the Recognition Controversy, 1949-1950

Patterns in the Dust: Chinese-American Relations and the Recognition Controversy, 1949-1950

Patterns in the Dust: Chinese-American Relations and the Recognition Controversy, 1949-1950

Excerpt

As witnesses to the disintegration of Nationalist forces in the path of onrushing Communist armies in later 1948, American officials had no choice but to reconsider the course of Sino-American relations. Since the end of World War II, Americans had been involved in Chinese affairs--giving aid to the government of Chiang Kai-shek as it fought an anticommunist civil war. But despite arms, ammunition, money, and supplies from the United States, the Kuomintang effort had faltered and by 1949 had reached its last days. The question arose, therefore, whether Washington would try to rescue the collapsing Nationalist regime or come to terms with China's communists.

President Harry S Truman and his Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, caught up in the calculations of cold war diplomacy and the management of domestic politics, refused to make rash judgments about events in the East. Attempting to explain the Administration's cautious approach to the Kuomintang debacle, Acheson likened it to a tree falling in the forest: the United States would have to wait until the dust settled before it could see ahead clearly. Yet this was not a do-nothing policy as critics supposed; the Truman-Acheson posture of passivity masked serious efforts to assess both the international repercussions of a new China policy and the tolerance of American interest groups and the public for a change of direction in Asia.

I trace here the patterns in the dust of China's fall--to see what officials thought they saw and what they might do. My analysis is of American reactions to the Chinese revolution, with an emphasis upon the issue of United States recognition of the People's Republic of China. The inquiry spans the eighteen months from January 1949, when the second Truman Administration took office and events in China heralded an imminent resolution of the civil conflict, to June 1950, when the Korean War brought reasoned analysis to an abrupt end. It covers a range of government actions, from assessment of the chances for accommodation with the Chinese Communists, through efforts to ascertain the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.