China and the United States

(L-R) Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong; Deng Xiaoping and Jimmy Carter; Jiang Zemin and Bill Clinton.

From Hostility to Engagement, 1960-1998

China and the United States: From Hostility to Engagement, 1960-1998 publishes together for the first time recent unclassified and newly declassified documents pertaining to the formulation and implementation of the United States' policies toward the People's Republic of China and Taiwan over the last four decades, indexed for maximum accessibility. This set reproduces on microfiche over 2,000 memoranda and policy studies, diplomatic cables, briefing and information papers, transcripts of conversations between key Chinese and U.S. officials, written communications between U.S. and Chinese officials, government-to-government agreements, and intelligence reports and studies.

The collection includes top-secret studies of the feasibility of preempting China's 1964 atomic test by destroying Chinese nuclear facilities, the verbatim transcript of President Nixon's historic first meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong, secret U.S. embassy reporting on China's 1989 attack on protestors in Tiananmen Sqaure, and secret biographies of Chinese civilian an military leaders prepared by the CIA and DIA.

The approximately 15,000 pages of documentation come from the National Security Council, the State Department in Washington and American Embassy in Beijing, the Defense Department, a variety of U.S. intelligence agencies, the military services and commands, the General Accounting Office, and Congressional Research Service, as well as a number of white papers on arms control and human rights from the People's Republic of China.

China and the United States presents a unique look into America's relations with the nation has become the major surviving Communist power, served as key strategic partner in the the last half of the Cold War, and has posed a major challenge for U.S. policymakers since the end of the Cold War. The documents in the collection are drawn from diverse sources, including the National Archives, presidential libraries, and most importantly, hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests. The result of the effort is an authoritative collection which will prove of tremendous value in understanding both China and U.S. policy toward that nation.

China and the United States provides a wealth of information and documentation on key aspects of U.S.-China relations, including such extraordinary topics as:

President Richard Nixon arrives in Beijing aboard Air Force One on February 21, 1972 (Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Archives).

Significance of the Collection

The People's Republic of China was first a major adversary of the United States and then, during much of the Cold War, a strategic partner. Today, it is a major challenge for U.S. policymakers as well as topic of heated debate in the post-Cold War era. China not only remains a Communist power, whose foreign and domestic policies clash with U.S. interests and values. It is also a rising military force and a major market for American goods.

China and the United States allows scholars direct access to remarkable newly declassified, primary documents that dramtically enhance understanding of the history of U.S.-Chinese relations and U.S. policy formation and implementation with respect to China. The documents, which go far beyond what is available in secondary sources, are essential for reaching an accurate understanding of what was happening behind the scenes and how that related to the better-known aspects of U.S.-China relations.

The material contained in the set is crucial to assessing the role of key individuals and institutions in the formulation and implementation of U.S. China policy, key considerations for U.S. policymakers, U.S. strategy in dealing with both the PRC and Taiwan, as well as American perceptions of events in China and Chinese external activities.

Henry Kissinger visits the Great Wall on October 26, 1971 (Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Archives).

One-Stop Access to Critical Documents

It would take a monumental effort, as well as tens of thousands of dollars, to duplicate the information contained in this collection. China and the United States allows a researcher -- whether interested in the Nixon opening to China, U.S-Chinese military relations, U.S.-Chinese relations since normalization, U.S. intelligence analysis of China or a variety of other subjects -- to use one source at one location to access the thousands of pages of declassified material available in this set.

Through China and the United States the researcher gains access to a wide variety of documents, including Presidential decision and study directives (for the Kennedy through Bush administrations); studies produced in response to Presidential study directives; briefing papers for U.S. State and Defense Department officials covering topics such as the role of Taiwan in U.S.-China relations, human rights in China, and Chinese proliferation activities; transcripts of conversations between Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong; intelligence estimates and reports produced by the CIA, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, DIA, and other intelligence agencies on subjects as diverse as Chinese educational policy to the national command and control structure.

Premier Zhou Enlai and President Richard Nixon review Chinese troops on February 26, 1972 (Nixon Presidential Materials Project, National Archives).

In-depth Indexing Makes Every Document Accessible

 The National Security Archive prepares extensive printed finding aids for its collections. In-depth indexing offers users remarkable ease and precision of access to every document in the set. The printed Index provides document-level access to subjects, individuals, and organizations, and represents a major research contribution in itself. Important transactions within each document are indexed individually using a controlled subjects vocabulary.

 The Guide includes an essay; events chronology; glossaries of key individuals, organizations, abbreviations, terms, and weapons and warnings systems; document catalog; and bibliography of secondary sources.

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President Gerald Ford, Ambassador George Bush, and the president's staff meet with Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping in Beijing on December 4, 1975 (Gerald R. Ford Library).

Research Vistas

With its depth of documentary detail and balance of perspectives, this collection enables researchers to explore in greater detail:
Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping and President Jimmy Carter sign diplomatic agreements in Washington on January 31, 1979 (Jimmy Carter Library).

The Collection is a Necessity for:

Sample Document Titles

View documents from China and the United States in the electronic briefing book Tiananmen Square 1989, The Declassified History.

President Bill Clinton and Premier Jiang Zemin toast one another during the president's trip to China in June 1998 (White House).

The National Security Archive U.S.-China Relations Project Staff

Project Director
Jeffrey T. Richelson

Project Staff
Michael Evans, Research Assistant
Jane Gefter, Research Assistant
Michael Watters, Research Assistant

U.S.- China Relations Advisory Board
Professor George Quester, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland

Robert Kagan, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Professor Harry Harding, Dean, Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University

Overview and Ordering Information

China and the United States: From Hostility to Engagement, 1960-1998

Reproduces on microfiche 2,050 U.S. government records totaling over 15,000 pages of documentation concerning the evolution of relations between the United States and China.

Materials were identified, obtained, assembled, and indexed by the National Security Archive.

The Special Collections

Microfiche are arranged chronologically. For ease of use, each document bears a unique accession number to which all indexing is keyed.

The documents are reproduced on 35mm silver halide archivally permanent positive microfiche conforming to NMA and BSI standards. Any microfiche found to be physically substandard in any way will be replaced free of charge.

A printed Guide and Index accompanies the microfiche collection. The Guide contains an events chronology, glossaries, chronological document catalog and a bibliography of secondary sources. The Index provides in-depth, document level access to subjects and individuals.

Date of Publication
July 1999

Contact Chadwyck-Healey, Inc. for orders and inquiries (click here).

Secretary of Defense William Cohen escorts General Zhang Wannian to the Pentagon parade field on September 15, 1998 (Department of Defense).

Praise for China and the United States

The China collection is a breathtaking record of America's long journey toward the People's Republic of China. To hear the voices, for the first time, of China's revolutionary icons, Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai, cajoling
admonishing and debating American leaders in private, with both sides seeking to out charm and out wit the other, will stand as the greatest contribution to this document set. But for researchers and historians, these conversations are sprinkled over a much broader landscape of documentation that provides the larger context of Chinese-American relations over three decades and six administrations. For Asia hands, this collection will likely prove the indispensable benchmark of primary source documentation for years to come.

Patrick E. Tyler
Beijing Bureau Chief, (1993-1997)
The New York Times

This is an extraordinary collection of newly declassified documents. Covering four decades of U.S.-China relations, it goes far beyond the limited offerings of the FRUS series. Providing full texts, for example, of the historic Nixon-Mao conversations of February 1972 and of a remarkable 1964 U.S. government discussion paper exploring the costs and benefits of a pre-emptive air strike against China's nuclear weapons facilities, this collection will become an indispensible refernece work for serious students of U.S. foreign policy and Sino-American relations.

Richard Baum
Department of Political Science
University of California, Los Angeles
Author, Burying Mao: Chinese Politics in the Age of Deng Xiaoping (Princeton University Press)

Return to National Security Archive microfiche sets.