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Timeline: Nixon's China Game

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

Highlights: 1960-1964
  • Third Taiwan Strait crisis
  • Sino-Soviet split widens
  • Tonkin Gulf resolution authorizes U.S. military involvement in Vietnam War
  • China explodes its first atomic bomb
1960 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964
Apr. 16 In a Communist Party journal, Beijing attacks the Soviet leadership as "revisionist," in the first public indication of a Sino-Soviet split.
May 23 The "Liberal Project," a group of House members, scholars and scientists, releases a study advocating opening direct communications with Beijing and withdrawing U.S. opposition to U.N. membership for the P.R.C..

Jun. 16 The Committee of One Million Against the Admission of Communist China to the United Nations calls on the American public to support its campaign opposing concessions to the Beijing government.

Jun. 18 In a visit to Taiwan, President Eisenhower tells a rally, "The United States does not recognize the claim of the warlike and tyrannical Communist regime in Beijing to speak for all the Chinese people. In the United Nations we support the Republic of China, a founding member, as the only rightful representative of China in that organization."

Jul. 16 Moscow recalls thousands of Soviet advisers from China and cancels economic and military aid to the P.R.C..

1961 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964
Mar. 7 Sino-American ambassadorial talks in Warsaw resume.

Aug. President Kennedy secretly promises Chiang Kai-shek that the U.S. will veto any U.N. decision to seat the Beijing government, and agrees to cooperate with Chiang's forces in covert operations against the mainland.

Dec. 1 Debate in U.N. General Assembly on whether to admit the P.R.C., the first time since 1950 that the question of China's admission makes it to the General Assembly.

Dec. 15 U.N. General Assembly rejects a Soviet resolution to admit the P.R.C. to the U.N. and expel Nationalist China.

1962 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964
Feb. 24 Beijing warns that U.S. military action in South Vietnam is "a direct threat" to North Vietnam, and therefore "seriously affects the security of China and the peace of Asia."

Jun. 20 Third Taiwan Strait Crisis:Following a Nationalist troop buildup on the Jinmen and Mazu islands in the Taiwan Strait, Chinese Communists begin massing troops and military equipment on the mainland opposite the islands. Three days later, Beijing puts its citizens on alert for an invasion by the Nationalists.

Jun. 26 U.S. ambassador to Warsaw receives instructions to secretly assure the Chinese that the U.S. will not support "any Nationalist attempt to invade the mainland."Publicly, President Kennedy tells newsmen the next day that the U.S. would "take the action necessary" to defend Taiwan and the offshore islands from Communist attack.

Oct. 22-28 Cuban Missile Crisis:In a proclamation establishing a naval blockade of Cuba, President Kennedy states that world peace and the security of the Western Hemisphere are "endangered by reason of the establishment by the Sino-Soviet powers of an offensive military capability in Cuba."The crisis ends when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev ordered the dismantling of the missile bases and removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba.

1963 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964
Jun. 10 President Kennedy states in a commencement address that it is time for a re-examination of American ideas about the Soviet Union and the Cold War, the first time since World War II that a U.S. president suggests the possibility of friendship with the Soviets.

Jul. 5 Sino-Soviet talks begin in Moscow to discuss the widening split between Moscow and Beijing over ideological differences. On July 21, both countries issued a joint statement that the talks have ended, and that the delegations have failed to reach any agreement except to recess.

Aug. 1 In a news conference, President Kennedy states that China, with its population of 700 million, its nuclear potential, and "a government determined on war as a means of bringing about its ultimate success," might pose "a more dangerous situation than any we have faced since the end of the Second World War."

Aug. 5 The United States, Soviet Union and Britain sign a treaty prohibiting nuclear testing in the atmosphere, underwater, or in outer space. The week before, the Chinese had publicly denounced the test-ban treaty as "a big fraud to fool the people of the world."

Sep. 6 First of a nine-part series on the Sino-Soviet split, published in the Beijing People's Daily and in a Communist Party journal, blames the serious, but not yet irreparable split on the Soviets.The series runs through July 13, 1964.

Sep. 21 In an article in Izvestia, the Soviet government charges that the Chinese have "systematically" violated the Sino-Soviet border since 1960, warning a "decisive rebuff" if China continues its "hostile activities."

Oct. 28 Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Yi publicly states that it will be several years before China begins testing nuclear weapons, and many years before China can be considered a nuclear power.

Dec. 13 Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs Roger Hilsman reveals that the U.S. has "no reason to believe that there is a present likelihood that the [Chinese] Communist regime will be overthrown," and implies that the U.S. is ready to coexist with Communist China while maintaining its commitments to the Nationalists on Taiwan.

1964 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964
Jan. 27 Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara tells the House Armed Services Committee that because the Sino-Soviet split has led to major cutbacks of Soviet military aid, China will not undertake any major military campaigns in 1964, but "will certainly continue to support subversion and insurrection in Southeast Asia and will attempt to gain control of revolutionary movements elsewhere in the world."

Mar. 17 The U.S. pledges "to furnish assistance and support to South Vietnam for as long as it is required to bring Communist aggression and terrorism under control."

May 3 In response to questions from Western reporters, Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Yi states that the initiative for better Sino-American relations would have to come from the United States, and that China could only wait for U.S. recognition and the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Taiwan.

Jul. 6 Chen Yi warns that an attack on North Vietnam would threaten China's security, and that "the Chinese people naturally cannot be expected to look on with folded arms."

Aug. 7 Following reports of North Vietnamese attacks on U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, Congress overwhelmingly passes the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, approving President Johnson's request for authority to bomb North Vietnam and widen U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Sep. 15 President Johnson, Secretary of State Rusk, Defense Secretary McNamara, and National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy meet to decide whether to make a preemptive strike against China's nuclear installations.

Oct. 16 China successfully explodes its first atomic bomb.

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

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