Waiting for de Gaulle: France's ten-year warm-up to recognizing the People's Republic of China

Romano, A. (2017) Waiting for de Gaulle: France's ten-year warm-up to recognizing the People's Republic of China. Modern Asian Studies, 51(1), pp. 44-77. (doi: 10.1017/s0026749x16000330)

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This article focuses on France's policy towards Socialist China in the decade preceding the spectacular and well-studied decision by President Charles de Gaulle to officially recognize the People's Republic of China (PRC). It argues that since the mid-1950s successive French governments discreetly orchestrated a process of rapprochement with the Communist authorities in Beijing. The article demonstrates that, at a time when the international situation discouraged steps towards official relations, the French government used commercial diplomacy as a means to open unofficial diplomatic channels with the Chinese and prepare the ground for future recognition. Relying mostly on French archival sources, this article brings to light evidence of the evolution of French diplomacy's thinking about Socialist China and assesses the rationales behind the French government's growing determination to normalize relations with it. It argues that the intensifying contest among European countries to reach out to Beijing, concerns about the PRC's appeal to developing countries, and an early appraisal of Sino-Soviet rivalry prompted French authorities to work for Sino-French rapprochement, while, at the same time, annoyance at the White House's obstinate refusal to revise its reading of Cold War dynamics weakened France's disposition to fall into line with American demands to maintain a harsh stance towards the PRC.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Romano, Dr Angela
Authors: Romano, A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:Modern Asian Studies
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):1469-8099

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