About Face: A History Of America'S Curious Relationship With China, From Nixon To Clinton

About Face: A History Of America'S Curious Relationship With China, From Nixon To Clinton

  • Publish Date: 2000-02-15
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: James Mann
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Vintage
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"Mann's colorful and detailed narrative, studded with dozens of vivid anecdotes, reveals how ineptly [we] have managed our ties with the world's most populous nation." --The Washington Post Book World

Drawing on hundreds of previously classified documents, scores of interviews, and his own experience, James Mann, former Los Angeles Times Beijing bureau chief, presents the fascinating inside story of contemporary U.S.-China relations.

President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger began their diplomacy with China in an attempt to find a way out of Vietnam. The remaining Cold War presidents saw China as an ally against the Soviet Union and looked askance at its violations of international principles. With the end of communism and China's continued human rights abuses, the U.S has failed to forge a genuinely new relationship with China. This is the essential story of contemporary U.S./China policy. 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

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