In the 1960s, China and the United States had no trade relations and no direct diplomatic contacts. At the end of the 20th century, the two nations are major trading partners who regularly swap visits between their heads of state, and the relationship between the world's most populous nation (with its nuclear weapons and rapidly expanding economy) and the world's most powerful nation (standard-bearer of democracy and capitalism) has become increasingly vital to world peace. Though it remains fraught with problems, the relationship between China and America has survived such crises as the Tiananmen massacres and confrontations over Taiwan.
James Mann, a foreign policy columnist for the Los Angeles Times, was that newspaper's bureau chief in Beijing from 1984 to 1987. In the clear language of a veteran journalist, he analyzes the political and historical developments since America's first overtures to a xenophobic China in the early 1970s. President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were interested in China as a counterweight to Soviet Russia; the Clinton administration is interested in China's markets, with a nod paid to human rights along the way. In this fascinating study, Mann uses his firsthand experience of the events and players to guide us confidently through the twists of a tortuous diplomatic journey, in which China has continually been able to play its opponents--including not only the U.S. and other nations but opposed political factions within America--off one another. --John Stevenson
From Publishers Weekly
The Cold War may be over, but its effects live on in the United States's desire to seek close ties with China. That's one of the main threads that Mann (Beijing Jeep), a Los Angeles Times reporter, skillfully pulls through his entertaining history of Sino-American relations since Henry Kissinger's fateful 1971 mission to Beijing. Mann deftly chronicles how Nixon's desire to open up China in order to diplomatically outflank the Soviet Union has become a virtual straitjacket on American policy. America's key decision-makers in successive administrations, Mann argues, mistakenly believed that younger leaders would reform China in much the same way that Mikhail Gorbachev transformed the Soviet Union. Using scores of interviews with top American players (former secretaries of state, national security advisers and CIA directors), as well as documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, he shows that the U.S. has been unable, especially in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, to pressure China to reform. By the 1990s, economic ties with Beijing had become such a driving force that the Chinese knew that all American threats?most importantly the threat of revoking Most Favored Nation trade status?were empty. Mann's descriptions of the behind-the-scenes jockeying among U.S. policy makers?the micropolitics behind the geopolitics?are so entertaining that his book will appeal to readers beyond foreign policy junkies.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.