Reagan-Sino Legacy: Relations of the United States and China in the 1980s

Nicholas G. Hahn


            Tiananmen Square is over six thousand miles from Krakow, Poland but through the lens of history, they bear a striking resemblance.  Nowa Huta is a small suburb outside Krakow.  It was formerly a planned Soviet community, one with large, typically-Soviet buildings making up long city blocks.  It was a failed communist attempt to catch up to the industrial giant of the United States.  During the communist time, workers regularly protested in what was Central Square.  In 2004, the Krakow City Council voted to rename this square to: “Ronald Reagan Square.”  All throughout Eastern Europe, you’ll find similar honors to our 40th President.  Ronald Reagan’s legacy lives most vibrantly here, in the town squares of Eastern Europe.

            Nowa Huta is a far cry from Beijing.  There are no statues of Ronald Reagan in Beijing or in Shanghai.  China is still communist.  Accordingly, Reagan excluded the Red Chinese from his famous condemnation of the “Evil Empire.”  In fact, China was the first communist country Reagan ever visited as President.  This ideological disconnect was simply strategic, for as Reagan said, “Russia is still enemy number one.”  China was not the communist country invading Afghanistan; Chinese influence could not be felt as Martial Law was declared in Poland; and most of all, China was no ally of the Soviet Union.  In a word, China was not an aggressively expanding communist state which threatened world peace––the Soviet Union was all the above. 

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