It reflects some clear thinking in the US State Department in its understanding of issues related to China. Broadly put, the proposed policy aims to build a calibrated relationship with China but at the same time have a strong upper hand in this relationship. This paper provides a wider perspective to the ‘draft document’ and contextualizes the policy of the US government towards China to the prevailing national and international political scenarios of the time.
The proposed policy rightly aims to assist the Chinese people by providing them with food stocks. The ‘Great Leap Forward’ beginning 1958 which was about simultaneous development of agricultural and industrial sectors, turned out to be a major economic disaster for China, leaving, by some estimates around 20 million dead. Providing China with much needed food relief and other humanitarian aid such as medical information and advanced warnings about natural disasters, in this scenario, would have indeed helped Chinese people (if not the Chinese Government) warm up to the Americans. What the proposed policy fails to take into account is that China has always been a ‘closed’ State. Even in 2008, in an era of internet and mobile phones, the Chinese people are largely dependent on government filtered sources of information (Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman). Attempting to influence opinions of Chinese people in the 1960s would have only been tougher.
By attempting to reward the Japanese and Indians, the proposed policy rightly aims to strengthen the nuclear capabilities, albeit for peaceful purposes, of China’s neighbours, and in turn, build a perception that China’s military capabilities are neither unique nor so strong as to push the smaller neighbours into China’s fold. The US strategy of containment of China is envisages the willingness of the smaller players such as Japan or larger ones such as India to become a pawn in