Richard V. Allen: The Next Step in the Taiwan-China Dance
When Richard Nixon conceived the strategy in 1967 to open a door to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), he had only a vague notion of how “success” could actually be measured. One major consideration: to take advantage of the raging Sino-Soviet feud to create an “offset” to the Soviet Union. His Foreign Affairs article on the subject—”Asia After Vietnam”—appeared in October 1967 and was largely ignored, dismissed by some as campaign rhetoric. In January 1968, 10 months before his election, he sent me to Japan and Korea to advise leaders of his long-range intentions.
Nixon did not expect an immediate breakthrough and knew he had to operate cautiously. Indeed, once in office, his basic instruction to the National Security Council staff was to “find a way to get in touch with China.”
At the time, National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, new to the Nixon circle, thought the idea “crazy.” But Nixon was also keenly aware of the importance of not abandoning Taiwan, with which the U.S. maintained full diplomatic relations, and which had a seat on the five-member United Nations Security Council.