Politics, United States
It’s the Republican Party that has changed, not China.
The New York Times editorial board has condemned the GOP’s new platform, just authorized at the Republican National Convention, as the “most extreme” in memory. This may well be the case, but the platform is also remarkable for something the Times does not comment on: belligerence and a new cynicism towards China. To show how this really is something new, this article reviews GOP platforms since Nixon’s rapprochement with China and traces the evolution thereafter of GOP disillusionment.
In 1972 the Republican platform boasted, “President Nixon’s visit to the People's Republic of China was . . . an historic milestone in his effort to transform our era from one of confrontation to one of negotiation.” Relations between the two countries were seen as promoting “an important contribution to world peace,” as the 1976 platform reaffirmed. Despite cultural and political differences, the relationship was based above all on “the need to maintain peace and stability in Asia” as the 1980 platform put it. In 1984, Republicans spelled out what they meant by the euphemistic “peace and stability”: “Despite fundamental differences in many areas, both nations share an important common objective: opposition to Soviet expansionism.” By 1988, when Reagan’s détente with the USSR was in full swing, the platform approved later that year cut out the anti-Soviet rhetoric, basing the U.S.–China relationship instead on “mutually beneficial trade,” and China’s continued economic and political opening u