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Piercing the Bamboo CurtainTentative Bridge-building to China During the Johnson Years$
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Michael Lumbers

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780719077784

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719077784.001.0001

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Staying firm

Staying firm

John F. Kennedy’s China policy, 1961–63

(p.12) 1 Staying firm
Piercing the Bamboo Curtain

Michael Lumbers

Manchester University Press

This chapter presents a broad overview of America's approach to China prior to November 1963, concentrating on the John F. Kennedy (JFK) years. The administration's handling of Chinese representation in the United Nations, food relief and Beijing's nuclear weapons program is dealt with. A ‘closed door’ policy served as a tool of coercion, designed to secure any eventual reconciliation with China strictly on American terms by withholding recognition and trade until the Chinese had learned how to ‘behave’. JFK's fear of a nuclear China was intense and long standing. Washington could stem the loss of international support for Taiwan and bolster its justification for containing the People's Republic of China (PRC). The short-term legacy of Kennedy's antagonistic dealings with China was decidedly negative. Camelot's record cast an imposing shadow for an insecure successor set on hewing as close as possible to the inherited line in foreign affairs.

Keywords:   PRC, John F. Kennedy, Beijing, United Nations, food relief, nuclear weapons, America

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