Formation of the foreign policy course of US president J.F. Kennedy on the Peoples Republic of China (january-october 1961).

Goncharenko A.V.



Abstract.  The article investigates the formation of the foreign policy course of US President John F. Kennedy on China in January-October 1961. There were characterized the election statements of the US presidential candidate from the Democratic Party J.F. Kennedy on China. The practical implementation of pre-election initiatives by the administration of the President John F. Kennedy in the Chinese direction in January-October 1961 was studied. There were analyzed reasons, course and consequences of intensification of Washington’s foreign policy strategy towards Beijing during the during investigated period. The role of various groups in the American establishment in the process of forming the foreign policy course of the new administration towards China in January-October 1961 is outlined. It is described the specific US foreign policy actions towards communist China at the beginning of J.F. Kennedy presidential period. The victory of J.F. Kennedy in the presidential election in 1960 was accompanied by a series of changes in the system of geopolitical and military priorities of the United States. The new administration’s more realistic approach to China was due primarily to the fact that Beijing, which renounced its alliances and claimed the role of a “third force”, was a weak player in the international arena and therefore minor, insignificant deviations from traditional policies of “containment and isolation” seemed acceptable. Moreover, the policy of “isolation” did not justify itself, as China has intensified its foreign policy, established relations with many countries, including the US allies. Gradually, the number of states that supported China’s demands for a seat in the UN grew, which created a real prospect for broad recognition of communist China. At the beginning of the presidency of J.F. Kennedy in January-October 1961, his administration was unable to quickly develop and begin to implement a holistic concept of “new frontiers” for China. His Chinese policy was inextricably linked to the US foreign policy in Asia and reflected the clash of American and Chinese interests in the region. At the same time, the representatives of the American establishment did not have a clear idea of how they could influence Soviet-Chinese relations in order to deepen the rift between the USSR and China, and what concrete benefits they could derive from this. This was due to a number of reasons. First of all, when he was elected, the administration of J.F. Kennedy joined the more important events at that time in terms of the US military and political interests than the policy towards China (European problems, issues of Atlantic unity, the Berlin crisis). Secondly, Washington still viewed communist China as a state that threatened American interests in Asia and was eager to expand its influence and strengthen its military power. An important influence on the formation of the foreign policy course of the administration J.F. Kennedy also had at the beginning of his presidency the fact that, having won the election with a minimal advantage, he did not risk starting a major change in Chinese policy and abandoning the policy of “containment”. In such way, the 35th President of the United States tried, at first, to show that he respected public opinion within the country, which was negative about communist China. Secondly, by demonstrating his propensity for the heredity of politics, he hoped to strengthen his vulnerable foreign policy position. That is why J.F. Kennedy, who did not rule out the possibility of changing China’s US policy, saw in his own practical actions toward China at the time no reason to abandon the doctrine of “containment”. Particularly, the idea of “containment” of China was the basis of a number of decisions of the John F. Kennedy administration, which eventually led to the escalation of American military intervention in Indochina.

Keywords: the USA, PRC, ROC, China, foreign policy, American-Chinese relations, doctrine of “deterrence”, J.F. Kennedy.