China’s foreign policy (1949-today): A 7-part podcast series

By The Socialist Program 

As the U.S. war machine ramps up aggression towards China, understanding the history of the country’s engagement with the world is more crucial than ever. This multi-part series takes an in-depth look at the history of China’s foreign policy since the 1949 revolution brought the Communist Party to power.

The podcast series appeared on The Socialist Program with Brian Becker, and for each episode Brian is joined by Kenneth Hammond, a Professor of East Asian and Global History at New Mexico State University and an activist with the organization Pivot to Peace.

Episode 1: Understanding China’s foreign policy: 1949-1959

This episode addresses the early phase of foreign policy pursued by the People’s Republic of China, characterized by fervent anti-colonialism and a complex alliance with the Soviet Union.

Episode 2: Understanding China’s foreign policy: 1959-1965

This episode discusses how U.S. imperialist pressure on China and the Soviet Union lead to a breakdown in relations between the two socialist giants; Soviet efforts at peaceful coexistence with the United States; the China-India war of 1962; the Soviet-U.S. 1963 nuclear test ban treaty; the U.S. invasion of Vietnam in 1964; and the CIA-organized anti-communist genocide in Indonesia.

Episode 3: 1965-1975: When enemies become “friends”

The third installment analyzes how Chinese foreign policy shifted after the Cultural Revolution. This culminated with China and the U.S. under the Nixon administration forging a new alliance that reshaped global politics.

Episode 4: 1975-1989: Reaping the whirlwind

At a time when U.S. imperialism seemed to be in complete and utter decline following its defeat in Southeast Asia, and with revolution spreading from Africa to Iran to Nicaragua, the United States enters into a de-facto alliance with China and facilitates the integration of China into the world economy. Brian and Prof. Kenneth Hammond also discuss China’s invasion of Vietnam in 1979; Gorbachev taking power in the Soviet Union and introducing far-reaching reforms; the arms race initiated by the U.S. that brings the world to the brink of nuclear war; the counter-revolutionary wave that sweeps the governments of Eastern Europe; and how China was confronted with the prospect of a counter-revolution in a 7-week long standoff in Tiananmen Square that ends with the suppression of that movement.

Episode 5: 1989-1995: Navigating to global economic integration after Tiananmen

This episode begins with the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, when China found itself internationally isolated and subjected to harsh new economic sanctions. Then in 1992, Deng Xiaoping launches the “Southern Tour”, culminating in the dramatic deepening of market reforms. This leads to a massive influx of foreign investment as China becomes deeply integrated into the global economy.

Episode 6: 1995-2001: Hong Kong returns to China and China joins the WTO

In 1997, China achieves another milestone in its long struggle to unify the country and end foreign domination–the return of the city of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. Meanwhile, China’s economic growth accelerates as the country plays a bigger and bigger role in the global economy. In 2001, this culminates with China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.

Episode 7: 2011-2021: US “Pivots to Asia” and Xi Jinping takes the reins

The final episode discusses U.S. imperialism’s “Pivot to Asia” during the Obama administration that makes China its top target. At the same time, Xi Jinping becomes China’s president and navigates China’s rise.

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