United States ends official relations with Nationalist China - HISTORY
Year
1978

United States ends official relations with Nationalist China

Flags at both the American embassy in Taipei and the Taiwanese embassy in the United States are lowered for the last time as U.S. relations with Taiwan officially come to an end. On January 1, 1979 the United States officially recognized the government of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing.

The American decision to sever relations with Taiwan and grant recognition to the People’s Republic of China was hotly resented by representatives of the Chinese Nationalist government. In a brief ceremony accompanying the lowering of the Taiwanese flag, a Chinese Nationalist official declared that the action “did not mean that we are giving up our fight against communism.” He strongly criticized American President Jimmy Carter for cutting off ties with “a loyal friend and ally of the United States” in exchange for normalizing relations with “our enemy, the Chinese Communist regime.” American officials had little comment, except to assure those seeking visas and other services in Taiwan that the U.S. embassy would continue to help them until March 1, 1979. At that time, a “nongovernmental” office would take over those duties.

It was a rather quiet end to nearly 30 years of American refusal to grant official recognition to the communist government of mainland China. The U.S. decision to maintain strong relations with the Nationalist government on Taiwan had been the main roadblock to diplomatic relations between America and the People’s Republic of China. By the late 1970s, the desire for closer economic relations with communist China and the belief that diplomatic relations with the PRC might act as a buffer against Soviet aggression led U.S. officials to view continued relations with Taiwan as counterproductive. President Carter’s decision to sever relations with Taiwan removed that obstacle. One of the oldest and most antagonistic relationships of the Cold War seemed to be thawing.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Soviets test supersonic airliner

The Soviet Union’s TU-144 supersonic airliner makes its first flight, several months ahead of the Anglo-French Concorde. The TU-144 so closely resembled the Concorde that the Western press dubbed it the “Konkordski.”In 1962, 15 years after U.S. pilot Chuck Yeager first broke the ...read more

Patriots defeated at Quebec

During the American Revolution, Patriot forces under generals Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery are defeated by the British defenders of the city of Quebec in Canada.On December 2, Arnold and Montgomery met on the outskirts of Quebec and demanded the surrender of the city. ...read more

Edison demonstrates incandescent light

In the first public demonstration of his incandescent lightbulb, American inventor Thomas Alva Edison lights up a street in Menlo Park, New Jersey. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company ran special trains to Menlo Park on the day of the demonstration in response to public enthusiasm ...read more

Panama Canal turned over to Panama

On this day in 1999, the United States, in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, officially hands over control of the Panama Canal, putting the strategic waterway into Panamanian hands for the first time. Crowds of Panamanians celebrated the transfer of the 50-mile canal, ...read more

Hungary declares war on Germany

On this day, the provisional government of Hungary officially declares war on Germany, bringing an end to Hungary’s cooperation—sometimes free, sometimes coerced—with the Axis power.Miklas Horthy, the anticommunist regent and virtual dictator of Hungary, who had once hoped to ...read more

U.S. annual casualty figures down

The gradual U.S. withdrawal from the conflict in Southeast Asia is reflected in reduced annual casualty figures. The number of Americans killed in action dropped to 1,386 from the previous year total of 4,204. South Vietnam losses for the year totalled 21,500 men, while the ...read more

Bloodiest year of the war ends

The bloodiest year of the war comes to an end. At year’s end, 536,040 American servicemen were stationed in Vietnam, an increase of over 50,000 from 1967.Estimates from Headquarters U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam indicated that 181,150 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese ...read more

Plane carrying Roberto Clemente crashes

On December 31, 1972, an airplane chartered by the professional baseball player Roberto Clemente to bring food and other relief supplies to survivors of a recent earthquake in Nicaragua crashes shortly after takeoff from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Five people were killed in the ...read more

John Denver born in New Mexico

John Denver, musician and actor, is born on this day in Roswell, New Mexico. Denver is remembered for the music he created, and for helping people begin thinking of the West as a pristine unspoiled wilderness rather than an area where cowboys, miners, and homesteaders earned ...read more

Rick Nelson dies in a plane crash

Former teen idol Rick Nelson dies in plane crash in De Kalb, Texas, on December 31, 1985.When the teenage Ricky Nelson launched his pop career in 1957 by picking up a guitar and singing at the end of an episode of The Adventures of Ozzie And Harriet, he established a template for ...read more

Pete Hamill quits drinking

On this day, 37-year-old journalist Pete Hamill quits drinking. Hamill’s bestselling memoir, A Drinking Life, details the influence of alcohol throughout the author’s life.Hamill was born and raised in an Irish neighborhood in Brooklyn. The oldest of several children, Hamill grew ...read more

Anthony Hopkins born

On this day in 1937, Anthony Hopkins, who will become known for playing one of the greatest villains in movie history, the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs and its two sequels, is born in Port Talbot, Wales. In addition to portraying Lecter, ...read more

Baseball star dies in plane crash

Roberto Clemente, future Hall of Fame baseball player, is killed along with four others when the cargo plane in which he is traveling crashes off the coast of Puerto Rico. Clemente was on his way to deliver relief supplies to Nicaragua following a devastating earthquake there a ...read more

Subway vigilante turns himself in

Bernhard Goetz, the white man dubbed the “subway vigilante” after he shot four young black men on a New York City subway train, turns himself in at a police station in Concord, New Hampshire. Goetz claimed that the men, all of whom had criminal records, were trying to rob him and ...read more

Battle of Parker’s Crossroads

On this day in 1862, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest narrowly escapes capture during a raid at Parker’s Crossroads in western Tennessee. Despite the close call, the raid was instrumental in forcing Union General Ulysses S. Grant to abandon his first attempt to capture ...read more