The Significance of Tripolarity in China's Policy Toward the United States Since 1972
The beginnings of triangular diplomacy in 1971 brought the People's Republic of China immediate recognition as a power of great influence in shaping the strategic relations between the two superpowers. Some North American scholars went so far as to suggest that the world, which used to be structured on bipolar lines, became restructured in the 1970s on a tripolar basis.1 The debates about the character and significance of tripolarity have tended to be conducted within the realist perspective. As a result, these debates did not raise the question of the impact of the divergent domestic political systems of the parties concerned on the dynamics of the triangle. Insofar as domestic issues were addressed, it was with concern for the possibly divergent foreign policy courses that domestic struggles for power may engender.