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The European Community’s opening to the People’s Republic of China, 1969-1979: internal decision-making on external relations

Chenard, Marie (2012) The European Community’s opening to the People’s Republic of China, 1969-1979: internal decision-making on external relations. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis analyses the decision-making within the European Community on opening to the People’s Republic of China between 1969 and 1979. The three main research themes, which this thesis will make a contribution to, are the EC’s decision-making in foreign policy, European integration in the 1970s, and the intersection of European integration and the Cold War. Neither the historiography of the Cold War nor of European integration have dealt with the EC-PRC relationship. This research addresses that deficiency. This is the first detailed, systematic historical study of the origins of the Community’s response to China that bases on archival sources released according to the 30-year rule. The study takes a Community-centred perspective, focusing on how the interests of the EC member states, those of the EC intergovernmental and supranational actors came together in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg to shape the EC’s response to the PRC. It is based on extensive multi-archival and multinational research, including records of the Community institutions, the French, British and German governments, personal papers, and interviews. The thesis argues that the Commission was the principal architect and motor behind the EC’s opening to China. Sir Christopher Soames, the first British vice-president and commissioner for external relations, was primarily responsible for establishing official relations. Personal beliefs and ambitions were at the root of his decision-making. Geopolitics were key. However the principal factor behind his and the Commission’s subsequent decisions was inter-institutional jockeying for power. The main implications of the opening were a furthering and deepening of European integration, and an acceleration of European détente and détente in Europe. This thesis therefore shows that the wrangle for competencies within the EC institutional system intertwined with broader trends of history, the end of the PRC’s isolation from international affairs and détente.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Marie Chenard
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International History
Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Ludlow, N. Piers and Westad, Arne

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