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The American Experience
Themes
United Nations representation of China
Sino-Soviet relations
Sino-U.S. relations
U.S.-Soviet relations
Nixon/Kissinger opening to China
Korean War
Vietnam War
Chinese Communists vs. Nationalists
Chinese demoestic politics
China as nuclear power
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Timeline: Nixon's China Game

1945 - 1949 |  1950 - 1954 |  1955 - 1959 |  1960 - 1964 |  1965 - 1969 |  1970 - 1974 |  1975 - 1979 


Highlights: 1955-1959
  • U.S. and China begin ambassadorial talks
  • Soviet Union agrees to help China develop nuclear capability
  • Second Taiwan Strait crisis
  • USSR cancels aid to China
 
1955 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959
 
Jan. Chinese Communists attack Nationalist-held islands in the Taiwan Strait. Nationalists respond by bombing Communist shipping along the China coast.
(Themes)
Jan. 24 Chou En-lai reiterates his intention to invade Taiwan.

Jan. 29 President Eisenhower signs the Formosa Resolution, threatening U.S. military intervention in the Taiwan Strait crisis.

Feb. 7 Nationalist troops begin withdrawal from Dachen Islands with assistance of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.
Mar. 8 In a nationally televised address, Secretary of State Dulles warns China not to underestimate U.S. determination to meet aggression in East Asia, adding that the U.S. could employ "new and powerful weapons of precision."

Apr. 8 In an article in Foreign Affairs, Arthur H. Dean, a U.S. negotiator in the Korean armistice talks and former law partner of Secretary of State Dulles, advocates U.S. recognition of Communist China.

Apr. 23 Chou En-lai states that Communist China does not want war with the United States and is willing to negotiate with the U.S. government. The U.S. responds that it would agree to negotiations if Nationalist China participates in the discussion as equals.

Aug. 1 U.S. and China begin first ambassadorial talks aimed at improving Sino-American relations. The talks secure the release of American POWs and spies in China and Chinese scientists detained in U.S. during Korean War. The talks, held first in Geneva, and after 1958, in Warsaw, continue on and off until 1972. They are the only point of direct contact between Beijing and Washington for 16 years.

 
1956 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959
 
Feb. 14 Soviet Party leader Nikita Khrushchev, in a speech at the 20th Soviet Party Congress, states that war with "capitalist imperialism" is no longer necessary and that "peaceful coexistence" is preferred.

May 12 Chou En-lai proposes meeting with Secretary of State Dulles to discuss Taiwan and other problems.

Jun. 12 Dulles rejects Chinese offer of discussions because of short notice and because 13 captured Americans are still imprisoned in China.

Aug. 7 One day after the Chinese government offers visas to 15 U.S. newsmen who had requested them, the U.S. State Department announces that it will continue to bar travel to China as long as it holds American "political hostages."

 
1957 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959
 
Jun. 25 Eleanor Roosevelt reveals that the State Department has denied her permission to travel to China and interview Chinese leaders.

Aug. 22 Secretary of State Dulles authorizes 24 news organizations to send correspondents to China for a seven-month trial period, but will not issue reciprocal visas to Chinese newsmen.

Aug. 25 The Chinese People's Daily denounces the State Department's plan as "completely unacceptable to the Chinese people."

Oct. 15 Soviet Union signs secret agreement with China to help the Chinese develop nuclear capability.

Oct. In Foreign Affairs, Senator John F. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) calls for a new foreign policy toward China, calling current U.S. policy "exaggeratedly military" and "probably too rigid."

Dec. 12 U.S. suspends on-again off-again Geneva talks with China.

 
1958 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959
 
May 18 Americans for Democratic Action calls for negotiations toward diplomatic recognition of Communist China "as a means of establishing the normal channels of communication between the two nations."

Jun. 13 China's first atomic reactor, built with Russian help, begins operating.

Jul. 22 China announces the start of a campaign to "liberate" Taiwan and begins building up forces opposite the island.

Aug. 23 Four years after the first Taiwan Strait crisis, Communist forces begin intensive shelling of the Nationalist-held islands off the Chinese mainland.

Sep. 4 Chinese Communists lay claim to all waters within 12 miles of its coasts, including the islands of Jinmen (Quemoy), Mazu (Matsu) and other Nationalist-held islands in those waters. The same day, John Foster Dulles issues a statement that the U.S. "would not hesitate" to use armed force "in insuring the defense of" Taiwan.

Sep. 6 Chinese Premier Chou En-lai proposes resumption of Sino-U.S. ambassadorial talks to discuss the Taiwan crisis. The U.S. agrees to talks the same day.

Sep. 8 President Eisenhower receives a letter from Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev warning that an attack on China would be "an attack on the Soviet Union."

Sep. 15 U.S. and Communist Chinese ambassadors to Poland open talks on the Taiwan Strait crisis in Warsaw. While no formal agreement over the Taiwan Strait islands is reached, the crisis subsides over the next several weeks.
 
1959 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959
 
Jun. 20 The Soviet Union annuls its secret October 1957 promise to help China develop a nuclear arsenal.

Dec. 7 Rockefeller Report on future U.S. foreign policy needs calls for improved relations with the Chinese people, while acknowledging China's hostile stance towards the U.S.


1945 - 1949 |  1950 - 1954 |  1955 - 1959 |  1960 - 1964 |  1965 - 1969 |  1970 - 1974 |  1975 - 1979 




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