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Crossing the Divide

Back to Diplomats and Diplomacy

Crossing the Divide: An Insider’s Account of the Normalization of U.S.-China Relations

“It is refreshing to have the candid views of a true insider regarding the evolution of U.S.-China relations over the past three decades. Holdridge was on the scene when history was made, and he has given us a fresh view of many crucial events.”  ––ROBERT A. SCALAPINO, University of California, Berkeley

Former assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific John H. Holdridge was intimately involved in the historic events surrounding the establishment of relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. With responsibility for East Asia on the National Security Council staff in 1969–73, he helped President Richard Nixon and his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, prepare for their first visits to China and accompanied them there. Holdridge was present in Shanghai when the historic framework agreement was completed and announced on 28 February 1972. These events and the subsequent key agreements in January 1979 and August 1982 have guided relations between the two countries ever since.

Ambassador Holdridge’s personal account of the background and negotiations for these agreements recounts the impediments to normalizing relations and the diplomatic maneuvering and negotiations that overcame them. Crossing the Divide also examines the broad sweep of U.S.-China relations after World War II and the challenges that continue to confront the important United States-China relationship.