The Problem of China

The People's Republic of China faces perhaps the most severe problem of all in adjusting her policies to the realities of modern Asia. With a population eight times greater than that of Japan, and possessing a much greater resource base, mainland China nonetheless sees the free Japanese economy producing a gross national product two and a half times that of her own. The remarkable success of the Chinese people within the free economic setting of Taiwan and Singapore (and the contributions of the overseas Chinese to growth elsewhere in Asia) stands as an eloquent rebuttal to Peking's claim of unique insight and wisdom in organizing the talents of the Chinese people.

The People's Republic of China is making a claim to leadership of the less developed portions of the world. But for that claim to be credible, and for it to be pursued effectively, Communist China must expose herself to contact with the outside world. Both require the end of the insulation of mainland China from outside realities, and therefore from change.

The twenty-two-year-old hostility between ourselves and the People's Republic of China is another unresolved problem, serious indeed in view of the fact that it determines our relationship with 750 million talented and energetic people.

It is a truism that an international order cannot be secure if one of the major powers remains largely outside it and hostile toward it. In this decade, therefore, there will be no more important challenge than that of drawing the People's Republic of China into a constructive relationship with the world community, and particularly with the rest of Asia.

We recognize that China's long historical experience weighs heavily on contemporary Chinese foreign policy. China has had little experience in conducting diplomacy based on the sovereign equality of nations. For centuries China dominated its neighbors, culturally and politically. In the last one hundred fifty years it has been subjected to massive foreign interventions. Thus, China's attitude toward foreign countries retains elements of aloofness, suspicion and hostility. Under Communism these historically shaped attitudes have been sharpened by doctrines of violence and revolution, proclaimed more often than followed as principles in foreign relations.

Another factor determining Communist Chinese conduct is the intense and dangerous conflict with the U.S.S.R. It has its roots in historical development of the vast border areas between the two countries. It is aggravated by contemporary ideological hostility, by power rivalry and nationalist antagonisms.

A clash between these two great powers is inconsistent with the kind of stable Asian structure we seek. We, therefore, see no advantage to us in the hostility between the Soviet Union and Communist China. We do not seek any. We will do nothing to sharpen that conflict-nor to encourage it. It is absurd to believe that we could collude with one of the parties against the other. We have taken great pains to make it clear that we are not attempting to do so.

At the same time we cannot permit either Communist China or the U.S.S.R. to dictate our policies and conduct toward the other. We recognize that one effect of the Sino-Soviet conflict could be to propel both countries into poses of militancy toward the non-Communist world in order to validate their credentials as revolutionary centers. It is also possible that these two major powers, engaged in such a dangerous confrontation, might have an incentive to avoid further complications in other areas of policy. In this respect, we will have to judge China, as well as the U.S.S.R., not by its rhetoric but by its actions.

We are prepared to establish a dialogue with Peking. We cannot accept its ideological precepts, or the notion that Communist China must exercise hegemony over Asia. But neither do we wish to impose on China an international position that denies its legitimate national interests.

The evolution of our dialogue with Peking cannot be at the expense of international order or our own commitments. Our attitude is public and clear. We will continue to honor our treaty commitments to the purity of our Asian allies. An honorable relationship with Peking cannot be constructed at their expense.

Among these allies is the Republic of China. We have been associated with that government since its inception in 1911 and with particular intimacy when we were World War II allies. These were among the considerations behind the American decision to assist the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan, with its defense and economic needs.

Our present commitment to the security of the Republic of China on Taiwan stems from our 1954 treaty. The purpose of the treaty is exclusively defensive, and it controls the entire range of our military relationship with the Republic of China.

Our economic assistance to the Republic of China has had gratifying results. Beginning in 1951 the U.S. provided $1.5 billion in economic assistance. Its effective and imaginative use by the government of the Republic of China and the people of Taiwan made it possible for us to terminate the program in 1965.

I am recalling the record of friendship, assistance and alliance between the United States and the government of the Republic of China in order to make clear both the vitality of this relationship and the nature of our defense relationship. I do not believe that this honorable and peaceful association need constitute an obstacle to the movement toward normal relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China. As I have tried to make clear since the beginning of my administration, while I cannot foretell the ultimate resolution of the differences between Taipei and Peking, we believe these differences must be resolved by peaceful means.

In that connection I wish to make it clear that the United States is prepared to see the People's Republic of China play a constructive role in the family of nations. The question of its place in the United Nations is not, however, merely a question of whether it should participate. It is also a question of whether Peking should be permitted to dictate to the world the terms of its participation. For a number of years attempts have been made to deprive the Republic of China of its place as a member of the United Nations and its specialized agencies. We have opposed these attempts. We will continue to oppose them.

The past four years have been a period of internal turmoil and upheaval in mainland China. A calmer mood now seems to be developing. There could be new opportunities for the People's Republic of China to explore the path of normalization of its relations with it's neighbors and with the world, including our own country.

For the United States the development of a relationship with Peking embodies precisely the challenges of this decade: to deal with, and resolve, the vestiges of the postwar period that continue to influence our relationship, and to create a balanced international structure in which all nations will have a stake. We believe that such a structure should provide full scope for the influence to which China's achievements entitle it.

We continue to believe that practical measures on our part will, over time, make evident to the leaders in Peking that we are prepared for a serious dialogue. In the past year we took several such steps:

In January and February of 1970 two meetings were held between our representatives in Warsaw, thus restoring an important channel of communication. The subsequent canceling of the scheduled May meeting was at Chinese initiative.

In April we authorized the selective licensing of goods for export to the People's Republic of China.

In August certain restrictions were lifted on American oil companies operating abroad, so that most foreign ships could use American- owned bunkering facilities on voyages to and from mainland Chinese ports.

During 1970 the passports of two hundred seventy Americans were validated for travel to the People's Republic of China. This brought to nearly one thousand the number so validated. Regrettably, only three holders of such passports were permitted entry to China.

In the coming year I will carefully examine what further steps we might take to create broader opportunities for contacts between the Chinese and American peoples, and how we might remove needless obstacles to the realization of these opportunities. We hope for, but will not be deterred by a lack of, reciprocity.

We should, however, be totally realistic about the prospects. The People's Republic of China continues to convey to its own people and to the world its determination to cast us in the devil's role. Our modest efforts to prove otherwise have not reduced Peking's doctrinaire enmity toward us. So long as this is true, so long as Peking continues to be adamant for hostility, there is little we can do by ourselves to improve the relationship. What we can do, we will.