BLHS-412 China, the U.S., and the Cold War Confrontation
Spring for 2017-2018
Faculty:
China is a global power on the rise. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) appears to be acting as a responsible member of the international community, whether on the United Nations Security Council or on humanitarian missions around the globe. China’s representatives are cultivating relations with the United States and a host of other countries and even encouraging travel and trade between the PRC and its former Nationalist foes on the island of Taiwan. Chinese representatives are working overseas to acquire reliable access to oil and other natural resources. While asserting sovereignty over islands in the East China Sea and the South China Sea claimed by Japan and other nations, the PRC has not pressed those claims. The People’s Liberation Army has focused on modernizing its ground, air, and naval forces but not on a threatening crash basis. Indeed, China has endeavored mightily to impress the world, evidenced by the spectacular August 2008 Olympics, with its desire to be seen as a “normal” nation and a “stakeholder” for insuring international peace and harmony.

And yet doubts persist among many Americans about China’s attitudes toward basic human rights, free political expression, representative government, and especially the use of military force to resolve international crises. The same government and party—the Communist Party—has ruled the country since 1949. Memories remain strong of Chairman Mao Zedong’s bellicose regime. Understanding China’s recent past and its interaction with the U.S. can provide insight on the Asian nation’s goals and how its current leaders intend to accomplish them?

The purpose of this course is to improve our understanding of the interaction—primarily confrontation—between the United States and the PRC during the long Cold War. In particular, the course will explore how the two countries dealt with each other in diplomatic, military, and ideological terms. Individual cases will include the Korean War, advent of nuclear weapons, Taiwan Straits Crises, Vietnam War, Shanghai understanding of 1972, and the denouement of the Cold War.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
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