After the Second World War, a bipolar world, known as the Cold War Era, has been clearly formed between the Western Bloc and Communist Bloc while the United States and the Soviet Union at the peak on each side. In Eastern Europe, the United States was restrained and felt helpless about Soviet expansion in this area with the perception of Yalta system. On the other hand, in Asia, with the breakdown of talks, an all-out war resumed. A Chinese civil war fought between Kuomintang (also as KMT or Chinese National Party) and Chinese Communist Party (CCP). At the end of 1948, KMT has occupied the inferior position. In the early period of 1949, CCP forces crossed the Yangtze River and successfully captured Nanking, the capital of KMT’s Republic of China (PRC) government. On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with its capital at Beiping, which was renamed Beijing. Chiang Kai-shek and millions of Nationalist Chinese retreated from mainland China to the island of Taiwan. Confronted with the CCP takeover of mainland China, the United States came to reformulate its China Policy which later marked a turning point in Sino-American relationship during the period of 1949 to the middle 1950.
In June 1948, the leader of Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, was officially denounced and his party, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY), was ejected as a member of the Cominform by the Soviet Union. Since the West branded Tito a Soviet puppet for his loyalty and constancy of faith to Stalinism, the Tito-Stalin Split presented a whole new realm of possibilities to the United States for its dilemma in china—“Chinese Titoism.” With the influence of Stilwell Incident over Sino-American relationship and the facts of Tito-Stalin Split, Truman made an about-face change to U.S. China Policy in 1949. By the early 1949, the Truman Administration has already been making plans to diverge from Chiang and his KMT such as the publication of China White Paper; at the same time, Truman Administration keeping making chances to have conversations with the CCP. By meeting and negotiating with the CCP officials, Truman Administration attempted to disunite Communist China and the Soviet Union, expected Mao to be the “Asian Tito,” and then Communist China can joint forces with the United States to fight against the Soviet Union, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Until the outbreak of Korean War in June 1950, the United States finally realized that what it faced is hostile china along with the Sino-Soviet partnership.
By applying Graham T. Allison’s three decision-making models, namely, the Rational Actor Model (RAM), the Organizational Behavior Model (OBM), and the Governmental Politics Model (GPM) as the theoretical structure and basis, the thesis would step by step explore the decision-making process of Truman Administration in engaging China to counter the threat from the Soviet Union during the period of 1949 to the middle 1950 through the perspectives of the rational assessment and choice on national interest, struggles between/among organizations based on different target and organizational culture, and pulling, hauling and bargaining games among relative bureaucrats. In addition, the thesis also applied the principles from Alexander L. George’s book, Presidential Decision-making in Foreign Policy, to aim at examining how President Truman’s, who has the final say, character, personality, value and world views made effect in the decision-making process of the target case study.
In the process of theory confirming, the thesis discovered that by the period of transformation of Chinese regimes in 1949, the Tito-Stalin Split of 1948 presented the United States a new inspiration for the Communist World, that is, the Eastern Bloc is not a rigid “Iron Curtain.” Truman Administration considered that Titoism may set its roots upon China, the Yugoslav-Soviet Conflict could be a replay situation that occurred in mainland China, and both would put the strategic thought—Engaging China to counter the Soviet Threat—into practice. Nevertheless, from the historical perspectives, this kind of strategic thought seemed over-optimistic, which did not conform to fully rational considerations. However, with regard to the background of the early Cold War Era and the suspicion between the Truman Administration and KMT, the alternative that the United States took reflected the principles of “bounded rationality model.” As a result, by examining the decision-making process of Truman Administration in engaging China to counter the threat from the Soviet Union during the period of 1949 to the middle 1950, what the thesis explored not only the facts about the Sino-American relationship in this period, but also the continuity and change of Truman’s China Policy along with its cause and effect.