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Kissinger visit to China 1971

Henry Kissinger’s visit to China was an event of great significance in the global power system of the cold war period. The significance of the event lies in the fact that it marked an inception of the bilateral relationship between China and USA. It shifted the balance of power in favor of the US led western block leaving USSR in a helpless state. However, this event was a great accomplishment for the diplomatic circles of Pakistan who played the defining role in turning the distant dream into a reality.


Kissinger visited China two times in a year i.e. July and October, 1971 when he was the US secretary of state. He held that prestigious office from 1969 to75. He made these secret trips to Beijing with the connivance of the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai who organized the beginning of relations of the People’s Republic of China with the West and maintained the same which remained successful as the subsequent history shows. The stance of both Kissinger and Zhou contradicted with each other initially on the question of Taiwan but later on Kissinger gladly acknowledged the Beijing position that Taiwan was part of China. Moreover, he played an important role in 1971 talks and settled the issues on Vietnam, South Asia and Japan. He formulated a new strategic anti-Soviet Sino-American group as China was also not on good terms with USSR. Zhou was hopeful that conciliatory and diplomatic process between US and China would help her country to come out of the isolation and would shape the country’s future.


The trip was arranged through Pakistan’s diplomatic channels that paved the way to initiate contact between USA and China because the USA was unable to talk directly. The US President Nixon asked president Yahya Khan in October 1970 at New York about rapprochement with China who used his good office to convince the Chinese whose response was also found positive. The message of goodwill and friendship was conveyed to the Chinese in an elaborately private manner.


Furthermore, the decade of 1970s was highly important phase of the cold war. The Vietnam War had resulted in deteriorating Chinese relationship with Soviet Union. She was developing her relationships with capitalistic bloc and was moving away from the communist world. This thing compelled USA to change their policy towards China in making friendly relations with her. Henry Kissinger, the foreign secretary of USA took the first initiative and visited China to take relations on right path which were derailed after China joined USSR in her crusade against the West.


Moreover, the relationship between USA and China was not favorable due to Vietnam War. In his meeting with Zhou Enlai, Kissinger made many commitments on Taiwan like withdrawing two-third of US forces present on the Island. Kissinger’s efforts find other avenues of communication with Beijing, such as the Romanian government and French contacts with Chinese embassy in Paris. Nixon also showed his urges to Kissinger to assuage Chinese fear of a resurgent Japan and the Soviet Union threat on their side. After Kissinger visit, President Nixon also visited China in 1972 which was a sign of the success of Kissinger’s diplomacy. It was helpful in strengthening the Sino-US relationships with each others.


In this context, Pakistan foreign relations further strengthened with China and USA. It helped Pakistan in attaining international support for her disputed issues from two opposing sides at the same time. Because of playing an intermediary role between China and USA, the Soviet Union’s reaction to that development was both angry and rapid. Taking advantage of the growing crises between Pakistan and India, she signed a Treaty of Peace, friendship and cooperation with India. The Soviet goal was to humiliate China and to punish Pakistan for having served as an intermediary. Furthermore, Pakistan foreign policy was in favor of USA and China and they always supported Pakistan militarily, politically, economically and diplomatically as well.


To conclude, it can be said that it was a great diplomatic success for Pakistan as the US secretary of state paid official visits to the communist China that ultimately led to the establishment of the friendly and amicable relationship between both the sides. It helped China to mark a break with the existing isolation and also helped Pakistan to enjoy the fruits of both at the same time.

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