China policy and America's public debate: ten arguments in search of normalized U.S.-PRC relations

by Richard H. Solomon

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As of 1978, leaders in Washington and Peking face the choice of either moving toward future cooperation and defusing the dispute over Taiwan by political means, or through inaction dissipating the policy of normalizing relations which was initiated in 1972 with the Shanghai Communique. The long-term implication of a failure to normalize U.S. relations with Peking is elimination of a favorable element giving strategic flexibility to American foreign policy and a gradual drift back into political hostility with the People's Republic of China (PRC), if not renewed conflict over Taiwan. This paper explores the mood of the American public and Congress on China policy as revealed in public opinion surveys, editorial opinion, press commentary, and the Congressional Record. The author presents a series of responses to the ten most common arguments put forward in opposition to normalization, in this way giving some sense of remaining objections to normalization and how their range of objections to normalization might be narrowed in public debate.

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