Western scholars have long assumed that Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai encountered opposition within the Chinese leadership when they sought to improve relations with the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Formerly secret documents and first-hand accounts published in China over the last two decades cast doubt on this assumption. Drawing on newly available Chinese sources, this article examines China's policymaking process vis-à-vis the United States during the crucial period from January 1969 to February 1972. The article shows that the highest Chinese officials (especially Mao, Lin Biao, and Zhou) agreed that improvements in U.S.-China relations would be desirable to offset the threat from the Soviet Union.

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