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The Costs of Realism: The Nixon Administration, the People’s Republic of China, and the United Nations

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

The Nixon presidency has been pivotal in debates on American Cold War foreign policy and domestic politics. Recent access to primary sources now allows more precise analyses of the relationship between the Nixon administration and the United Nations in general and the problem of Chinese UN representation in particular. The representation question conditioned the actions of the UN starting from the 1950s and was in turn influenced by the new policy adopted by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger toward the People’s Republic of China in 1971. Until now, analysis of White House strategy toward the PRC concentrated on the period preceding Peking’s admission to the United Nations or considered the admission question only marginally. This essay focuses on PRC admission to the United Nations, setting it within the context of the opening of dialog between the United States and China and of the realist strategy adopted by the White House, underlining the differences between the positions of the White House and of the Department of State.


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