United States To Host Conference on China Relations, 1969-1980

Washington – The Department of State and the George Washington University will sponsor a scholarly conference on U.S.-China foreign relations from 1969 to 1980, the historic period when normalization of relations between the two countries "altered the international landscape of the Cold War dramatically," according to a State Department announcement.

The conference, which will take place September 25-27 at George Washington University, will feature key U.S. officials of the era such as Brent Scowcroft, the national security advisor to both Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush; Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter; and Winston Lord, senior diplomat and ambassador to China from 1985 to 1989. Other participants include Philip D. Zelikow, the counselor of the Department of State, and Ambassador Christopher R. Hill, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

The conference is taking place in conjunction with the release of the latest volume of official records of the U.S. foreign relations, which cover the period 1969-1972.

The normalization of relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China followed a long and complicated diplomatic process that began in the mid-1950s. In 1969, the United States started relaxing trade restrictions and other impediments to bilateral contacts.

In February 1972, during President Nixon’s historic trip to China, the U.S. and Chinese governments issued the Shanghai Communiqué, in which both nations pledged to work toward the full normalization of diplomatic relations. The United States acknowledged the Chinese position that “there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China.”

Diplomatic relations between both countries were established on January 1, 1979. At that time the United States transferred diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, while Beijing acknowledged that the American people would continue to carry on commercial, cultural and other unofficial contacts with the people of Taiwan.

According to the announcement, the conference will draw on the recollections of key policymakers from several U.S. administrations and on “documents unearthed by scholars from around the world.” It also will examine the key factors that contributed to the breakthrough in U.S.-Chinese relations initiated by Nixon and cemented by Carter.

The full text of the conference announcement and registration information can be found on the State Department Web site.

For more information, see The United States and China.