Traders as Diplomats: Trade and Sino-American Rapprochement, 1971-78

Mao Lin


During the 1970s, U.S.-China relations went through a major strategic transformation. To oppose their common enemy, the Soviet Union, the two countries ended hostilities which lasted for more than two decades and became Cold War allies. Many scholars have discussed this major historic turning point, however, most scholars have focused exclusively on the strategic relations between the two countries, while ignoring bilateral economic and trade relations. This paper argues that trade relations actually constituted an important aspect of American foreign policy towards China. And the development of trade relations in the 1970s was mainly promoted by American businessmen. These American businessmen not only hoped to open the Chinese market, but also consciously regarded themselves as “unofficial ambassadors”, because they believed that trade will contribute to the improvement of the relations between the two countries. By developing trade with China, the United States expected to transform China into a market-oriented economy, and eventually change the political nature of the Chinese regime.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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