Address at the University of Chicago China Conference, Chicago, Illinois

February 8, 1967


Chicago, IL

It is safe to say that there is no aspect of American foreign policy so important and yet uncertain—no country so seemingly menacing about which we know so little—as China …We will ignore China, or think of her as weak, only at great danger to ourselves. We will never have a sound policy, if we assess Chinese power in anything but realistic terms . . . Mutual misunderstanding and ignorance have often led us to wrongly estimate the danger of China, and has often distorted the Chinese view of our attitudes and intentions . . . China may or may not become less aggressive and dangerous as it progresses . . . It is praiseworthy to hope and work for Chinese moderation; but to look upon moderation as the certain fruit of time, and act accordingly, is to tempt fatal danger. Further, and of great importance, we must understand that our policy toward China must be a major factor in determining our policy toward those countries which border on China—indeed all of Asia—in the economic, military, political and diplomatic fields.