Chapter 8 – Setting the New Cold War Strategy: The First Term - Statements and Decisions

China continues to support U.S. efforts to strengthen the world’s defenses against Soviet expansionism. The U.S. should over time seek to achieve enhanced strategic cooperation and policy coordination with China, and to reduce the Possibility of a Sino-Soviet rapprochement. The U.S. will continue to pursue a policy of substantially liberalized technology transfer and sale of military equipment to China on a case-by-case basis within the parameters of the policy approved by the President in 1981, and defined further in 1982.19
NSDD 75’s list of “Priorities in the U.S. Approach: Maximizing Restraining Leverage over Soviet Behavior” includes as its fourth priority task: “maintenance of a strategic relationship with China, and efforts to minimize opportunities for a Sino-Soviet rapprochement.”
NSDD 76 on Nuclear Cooperation—January 1983. NSDD 76—Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation with China, issued on January 18, 1983, is only one page long and has been heavily redacted. It includes Reagan’s words that:
United States will pursue peaceful nuclear cooperation with China on the basis of adequate non-proliferation assurances and other conditions. . . .
The Department of State will be responsible for implementation of this decision, in coordination with the Departments of Defense, Commerce and Energy, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the NSC staff.20
American Legion—February 1983. Reagan’s Address to the American Legion, on February 22, 1983 contained many direct critiques of aggressive Soviet policy, and a reference to Secretary of State George Shultz’s recent visit to China as follows:
Our relationship with the People’s Republic of China is another important one, not only for stability and peace in Asia but around the globe. During his visit to Beijing, Secretary Shultz [had] many hours of frank and useful discussions with Chinese leaders. The most important thing to emerge from these talks was that, despite our differences, it is clear that both sides value this relationship and are committed to improve it.
As we rebuild our relationship with China, we will not forget our other friends in the area. We are committed to maintaining our relationship with the people of Taiwan, with whom we’ve had a long and honorable association.21
NSDD 120 on PRC Premier’s Visit to U.S.—January 1984. NSDD 120—Visit to the United States of Premier Zhao Ziyang, issued on January 9, 1984, refers to improved relations expected from the Premier’s visit and Reagan’s return visit, and to:
our policy of treating China as a friendly, non-allied country [while] at the same time, we recognize that fundamental differences with the Chinese will persist on certain issues. . . .
[Our objectives include] to promote a China that remains independent of the Soviet orbit, . . . to encourage China’s efforts to modify and liberalize its totalitarian system, introduce incentives and market forces in its economy, and continue expanding its ties with the major industrialized democracies, . . . [and] to help China modernize.22
The directive continues with more detailed objectives in U.S.-China political, economic, and strategic/military relationships.
 In Sum. Reagan’s Cold War strategy focused on the Soviet Union as America’s superpower protagonist. He saw the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) as a Communist state of still modest power with an abhorrent system of government. Yet because the PRC feared Soviet nuclear blackmail or even preemptive attack, Reagan also saw an opportunity to use China as a potentially important lever against Soviet power and the Kremlin’s claims to leadership of the “Socialist Camp.” Reagan’s policy took advantage of these realities, but also imposed trade restrictions toward the PRC and insisted on strong U.S. diplomatic and security support for Taiwan. In areas only partially declassified since, the U.S. and PRC reportedly undertook significant cooperation in intelligence monitoring directed against Soviet military activities, especially in Central Asia.
[Book pg. 186]