On 27 January 1964, France and the People's Republic of China (PRC) officially established diplomatic relations. This was the first time since 1950 that a major power had recognized the PRC. The French initiative caused an international uproar and generated extensive debate about the motivations of French President General Charles de Gaulle. This article uses new archival materials to look closely at de Gaulle's decision and to show how the new links with Communist China fit into France's larger strategy in the Cold War. Although domestic political considerations helped to spur de Gaulle's action, the new documentary evidence makes clear that de Gaulle also was determined to establish France as a major actor on the world scene that could forge a middle path between the United States and the Soviet Union.

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