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This essay explores three interrelated themes: First, China's shifting relationship in the Soviet-American power balance since 1949; second, the basic patterns in contemporary Sino-American relations and Sino-Soviet relations, as they contribute to defining China's global role; and third, China's importance in the contemporary international system, as perceived by China and by other major powers. The author then draws some general conclusions about the likely evolution of the global strategic balance through the remainder of the 1980s.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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