Was Nixon fooled?

Nixon surrendered our economy to China after losing Vietnam to China. It was an unconditional surrender like Versailles in 1919.

Before Nixon, our approach to China was uniformly stupid and innocent. Starting around 1890, we viewed China as a land of customers. All of our policies were aimed at befriending their government so they would buy our stuff. “400 million customers” was the constant refrain.

This was stupid for many reasons.

1. China is the Middle Kingdom, with 3000 years of imperialism before we were even explored. China doesn’t go along with foreign devils unless actually attacked and invaded.

2. During the period in question, China WAS attacked and invaded by Japan. Repeatedly and brutally. Even if China had wanted to befriend us, they were way too busy being shot and tortured and raped.

3. Even if China hadn’t been imperialist and hadn’t been invaded, its people DIDN’T HAVE ANY SPARE MONEY. They couldn’t buy our cars or radios or cameras.

At the time when Nixon pulled the switcheroo from “400 million customers” to “800 million colonial masters”, reason 2 was gone, and reason 3 was fading. Mao had built a full industrial sector from scratch, sacrificing millions of peasants in the process. The remaining population was more urban by elimination.

So Nixon might have thought the “customers” were ready to buy our stuff.

Question: Was he innocent enough to forget the permanent Middle Kingdom? I doubt it. Nixon was evil, not dumb. He might have been uninformed about Chinese history, but his advisors like Kissinger certainly understood the situation.

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