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Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): China and the United States: From Hostility to Engagement, 1960–1998

About this Collection

This collection pulls together more than 2,000 documents concerning the relationship between the United States and China, with an emphasis on the 1969–1998 time period. The documents include memos, cables, and studies concerning U.S. diplomatic relations with China, records concerning the U.S.-PRC security relationship, documents related to the economic and scientific association with the PRC, and intelligence estimates and studies concerning the PRC's foreign policy objectives, military capabilities, and internal situation.

Research Value of this Collection

The relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China has been of importance to both countries since the PRC's establishment in 1949. That relationship has evolved from one of total hostility, to the initial opening to China, to normalization of relations, to the strategic embrace during the final years of the Cold War, to the complicated relationship that has developed in the post-Cold War era.

The importance of the relationship explains the tremendous volume of books, articles, and reports generated by scholars and journalists on various aspects of the U.S.-PRC relationship. One limitation faced by researchers has been a lack of primary documents. As a result, scholars have generally been forced to rely on secondary accounts of key policy documents or meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials, and fragmentary information on Chinese military capabilities that made its way into the media.

The documents included in this collection will permit scholars to refer directly to primary documents in researching U.S.China relations-including, but not limited to, policy reviews, intelligence estimates that describe various aspects of China's foreign, military, and domestic activities, as well as memoranda of conversations and diplomatic cables that provide an intimate look at key moments in the U.S.-China relationship. Thus, the documents should be of great relevance to scholars in a variety of fields, including those whose focus is:

  • China studies
  • U.S.-China relations
  • U.S. intelligence community
  • Policy formation
  • International relations and trade
  • Human Rights