During the 1980s, an interlocking complex of U.S. non-governmental organizations (the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Asia Society, and the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations) gradually built up contacts with Chinese elites. By mid-decade, the National Committee and the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs began a series of “U.S.-China Dialogues” in which influential figures from both sides met alternately in Beijing and the United States, supposedly informally, to discuss the state of Sino-American relations. Though the outcome of the protests at Tiananmen in June 1989 shocked them, American China-watchers consciously decided that contacts and efforts at communication and understanding must continue. At the Fourth U.S.-China Dialogue meeting in Beijing in early 1990, the American and Chinese participants assumed radically different positions, with the Chinese complaining bitterly about U.S. interference in China’s internal affairs. However, as the meeting ended, both sides agreed that, while there had been little agreement, such contacts and dialogues were valuable and must continue.
British Commonwealth archives constitite a rich and often under-utilized source of material for understanding the international history of the 20th and 21st centuries. From the late 19th Century onward, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand each enjoyed close and confidential relations with not just Britain, but with each other and increasingly, too, with the United States. They also participated in major international organizations at both an official and non-governmental level. Although or perhaps because each was a “middle” rather than “great” power, as each country developed its own diplomatic bureaucracy, their representatives often had informal and even intimate insights into the policies of a wide range of countries. This article introduces the highlights of each nation’s major archival repositories for materials relating to international affairs. While the holdings of the Library and Archives of Canada in Ottawa, the National Archives of Australia and the National Library of Australia in Canberra, and the National Archives of New Zealand in Wellington all feature prominently, the author casts a wider net and draw researchers’ attention to additional important and often under-utilized collections scattered across the different countries.