Revolutionary States, Leaders, and Foreign Relations: A Comparative Study of China, Cuba, and Iran

By R. K. Ramazani; Houman A. Sadri | Go to book overview

3

CHINESE FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1949-1959

In the second half of the twentieth century, Chinese leaders have often surprised foreign observers, especially those focusing on Chinese foreign relations. The literature includes many examples of expert astonishment at political events in the People's Republic of China (PRC). 1 These include the unexpected triumph of the revolutionary Chinese over Chiang Kai-shek's forces in 1949, Revolutionary China's entrance into the Korean War in 1950, The Quemoy Island Crisis in 1958, the 1963 public breakup of Sino-Soviet relations, China's entrance into the nuclear age in 1964, the revival of Sino-American diplomatic ties in 1972, the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square, and China's hostile reaction to the unofficial June 1995 visit of the Taiwanese president to the United States. In sum, depending upon one's perspective, China has been a source of either pleasant or unpleasant surprises.

References to China's so-called unexpected or unpredictable policy, 2 however, imply that our understanding of Chinese behavior is far from complete. We need to reassess our knowledge about the formulation and implementation of Chinese foreign policy, particularly from a more balanced perspective. A key issue is our incomplete perception of Chinese behavior, which tends to be “Western-centric.” One factor explaining the failure of the United States to respond more appropriately to Chinese affairs is our misperception of Chinese and their behavior. 3 Responding to the need for a more balanced perspective, I explain Chinese foreign relations by considering a Chinese interpretation of events, short of justifying or apologizing for Chinese policy misconduct. Like leaders of other developing countries, the Chinese have made errors in some policy choices. In their rapid drive for modernization, Beijing resorted to some shortcuts, that involved violence as is the case of Tiananmen Square. Obviously, there is no excuse for China's use of force in dealing with political opposition, or in reaching foreign policy goals; yet, this

-35-

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Revolutionary States, Leaders, and Foreign Relations: A Comparative Study of China, Cuba, and Iran
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Typology and Terminology of Revolutions 9
  • 2 - Non-Alignment as a Foreign Policy Strategy 17
  • 3 - Chinese Foreign Relations, 1949-1959 35
  • Notes 58
  • 4 - Cuban Foreign Relations, 1959-1969 65
  • 5 - Iranian Foreign Relations, 1979-1989 87
  • 6 - Conclusion 115
  • Selected Bibliography 133
  • Index 141
  • About the Author 149
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