Ouvrir la Chine, hier et aujourd’hui

WASHINGTON, DC – L’ouverture de l’Amérique à la Chine, par Richard Nixon et Henry Kissinger en 1971-1972, fut une avancée historique. Moins célèbre, mais d’égale importance, fut la démarche entreprise par Jimmy Carter il y a exactement 30& ans, qui établissait des relations diplomatiques complètes entre la Chine et les États-Unis. Sans cette action, annoncée le 15 décembre 1978, les relations sino-américaines n’auraient pas dépassé le niveau d’une petite connexion de haut vol au programme réduit.

À la fin de leur mandat en 1977, le président Gerald Ford et Kissinger laissèrent derrière eux une relation incomplète, et donc instable, avec la Chine. Les États-Unis reconnaissaient encore Taiwan, sous le nom de République de Chine, comme le seul gouvernement légitime. Depuis 1972, l’Amérique et la Chine maintenaient de petits “bureaux de liaison” dans leurs capitales réciproques, mais sans reconnaissance. Les communications officielles étaient très limitées, et le commerce bilatéral annuel était inférieur à 1& milliard de dollars (aujourd’hui il se monte à l’ahurissante somme de 387& milliards de dollars.)

Carter commença son mandat avec l’espoir de normaliser les relations avec la Chine. Il fallait pour cela transférer la reconnaissance américaine de Taiwan à la Chine continentale. D’aucuns considéraient ce geste comme une simple reconnaissance de la réalité, mais en réalité il s’agissait d’une démarche de grande importance qui demandait habileté diplomatique et courage politique.

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