On page 206 of Nixon in Winter, Monica Crowley relates the following discussion that she had with Richard Nixon about China:
"'Some want the United States to build a universal culture,' I said.
"[Nixon] turned to me, horrified. 'You mean like Americanize everything?...That's not only wrong, that's a crime.'
heard from somebody in Guangzhou that when the Chinese decided to build
the hotel we stayed in, they brought in an American manager, who gave
all the Chinese workers American names because it was easier for him,' I
"Nixon's jaw dropped. 'No! Why, that's...insulting! I
can't believe it. Who did he think he was? Coming over here, to one of
the strongest, richest, oldest, proudest cultures in the world and
stripping them of their identity?...That's bad,' he said, shaking his
head. 'Nobody should let that happen: not us, and not the Chinese."
passage reminded me of two things. First of all, it called to my mind
Nixon's aversion to colonialism. I can't make a blanket statement about
this, for Nixon in a speech in Great Britain (which he included in his
book, Six Crises----see here)
praised colonialism, and Nixon was quite critical of President Dwight
Eisenhower's anti-colonialist policy of refusing to assist Britain,
France, and Israel in going after Egypt after Egyptian President Nasser
nationalized the oil in the Suez. But, in reading Nixon's memoirs and
other books, Nixon does strike me as someone who sincerely tried to
understand the perspectives of other countries, including their aversion
to colonialism. Nixon was also critical of solely treating the
Third World as a battleground for the Cold War. People can argue about
whether Nixon was sufficiently anti-colonial or empathetic towards other
countries----or if he even was those things at all. (He certainly had a record of supporting U.S. intervention in other countries.) All I'm saying is
that I'm not surprised that he would be horrified by the view that
America should Americanize the world, or by an American manager who gave
Chinese workers American names.
Second, I thought of Nixon's
overall love for China. Nixon's respect for the Chinese people shines
through in his memoirs and also his 1980 book, The Real War. Moreover, on page 539 of Nixon: Ruin and Recovery, 1973-1990,
Stephen Ambrose says the following about Nixon during the 1980's: "He
hosted dinners----stag, intimate, off-the-record affairs for the opinion
makers...The dinner was invariably Chinese. (Nixon's love affair with
China was ongoing. His home was decorated in a Chinese motif; his house
servants were a Chinese couple; his bookcases carried works on Chinese
history. Chinese art, Chinese politics.)"