When President Richard Nixon set foot in The People's Republic of China in February, 1972, it seemed to the reset of the world that a giant step had been taken along the road to-international detente.
When President Richard Nixon set foot in The People's Republic of China in February, 1972, it seemed to the reset of the world that a giant step had been taken along the road to-international detente. That the leader of the United States could be so warmly embraced by Chairman Mao Tse-tung after 21 years of icy hostility, suggested a fundamental change in world politics.
But, two years later, the prospects are much less optimistic.
The fall-out from those heady days in Peking was to have been beneficial to both sides. For the Americans, it was a bridge to peace in Vietnam. For the Chinese, access to America's massive industrial product and, most importantly, the cessation of American support for the Taiwan regime.
The communique issued in Shanghai at the end of President Nixon's visit spelled out this last point specifically. And yet American assistance to Taiwan has not slowed down. The United States still maintains 6,5080 troops there, plus two squadrons of Phantom jets. In addition, it still trains the Taiwan army and provides widespread support for the economy of the country.
Furthermore, despite the 800 million dollars in trade between the U.S. and the Chinese last year. American press report say Peking is growing increasingly impatient at the delay in granting her full trade status - a delay washington says cannot be avoided until the debate on granting similar status to the Soviet Union is resolved.
The barometer of the cooling relationship between the two powers is the drastic drop in official exchanges between Peking and Washington. In the first ten weeks of last year, there were 30. In the same period this year, there were three.
Furthermore, the Chinese ???aison office in Washington -- an embassy in all but name -- has been empty since its representative, Huang Chen, returned to China last November. And America's envoy, Mr. David Bruce, has only just returned to Peking after a long unexplained absence.
But perhaps the most significant clue lies in the current upheaval within China over what is known as Confucian policies Western newsmen in Peking see these as an indirect criticism of Prime Minister Chou En-lai-the man who did most to bring about the detente of 1972. This, plus the political uncertainty surrounding President Nixon in the wake of the Watergate affair, may mean that the Chinese are prepared to let the relationship deteriorate until they see the United States living up to the letter of the Shanghai communique.