Crean, Jeffrey Peter (2017-05). With Fear and Favor: A Rising China Threat and the Path to Normalization, 1954-1971. Doctoral Dissertation.
Why did President Richard Nixon visit communist China in February 1972? And why was his July 1971 announcement of that trip the subject of such public euphoria, particularly given the intense antipathy towards the Chinese communists during the previous two decades? To answer these questions, this dissertation travels on two interconnected paths. First, it is the backstage story of a diplomatic revolution, chronicling how initially mid-level and then upper-level Executive Branch officials sought to change first the preconceptions which supported existing China policy, and then the policy itself. Second, it details how first the informed public and then the mass public reversed their once-steadfast positions on this issue, making change not only possible but profitable. The efforts of these officials inspired pundits and academics to call for change, which in turn altered the opinions of prominent senators and congressmen, who went from enforcing the status quo to calling for its upending. Underlying everything, particularly after 1960, was growing fear of a rising China. Now that a hostile communist regime ruling the world's most populous nation was no longer "a passing phase," the question of how to come to terms with Chinese power became pressing. A new policy of "Containment without Isolation" became increasingly popular as a means of taming a powerful China and incorporating it into a U.S.-led global order.