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Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): U.S. Intelligence and China: Collection, Analysis and Covert Action

About this Collection

This collection includes more than 2,300 documents providing new insights into aspects of intelligence operations, with the results of most of these efforts, naturally, kept highly classified. The resulting finished intelligence addressed a diversity of topics, ranging from military capabilities to domestic policies, and which was critical in helping to shape U.S. policy toward the emerging world power. This collection provides insights into all these aspects of intelligence operations, revealing U.S. concerns about its rival, China, and its ally, Taiwan

Research Value of the Collection

The People’s Republic of China, if it did not rise to the same paramount level of concern as the Soviet Union during the Cold War, still presented major security concern for the United States. The two nations have engaged in a number of military conflicts and clashes, both overtly in Korea and over Quemoy and Matsu; and covertly in Vietnam as well as more recently in and over the Pacific Ocean. China also became an important focus of U.S. diplomacy over the years, as the relationship evolved from outright hostility to strategic engagement. As a result of the changing relationship Beijing also became an important trading partner.

At least one set of key factors in determining U.S. actions with regard to China, whether military, diplomatic, or economic, are the intelligence collection and analysis efforts undertaken by a large number of U.S. intelligence agencies. These efforts allow researchers to examine some of the product itself as well as the conclusions drawn from the data gathered. The analytical product represents a key element in understanding U.S. policy decisions and expectations over the years relating to China — whether with respect to U.S. actions in Vietnam or the likelihood that President Reagan’s 1984 visit to Beijing would prove fruitful.

Intelligence on developments in the Republic of China, including its plans with regard to retaking the mainland and its nuclear weapons ambitions guided U.S. actions toward Taiwan.

This set was assembled from materials originating from a variety of intelligence organizations concerned with the collection and/or analysis of intelligence on the PRC and the Republic of China. Thus, the documents will be of great relevance to scholars in a variety of fields:

  • U.S. - China relations
  • U.S. - Taiwan relations
  • U.S. - Asia policy
  • Human rights
  • Intelligence collection
  • Intelligence cooperation
  • Intelligence analysis and its impact on policy