Angela Romano and Valeria Zanier – Circumventing the Cold War

The parallel diplomacy of economic and cultural exchanges between Western Europe and Socialist China in the 1950s

Modern Asian Studies book cover

Relations between Europe and the People’s Republic of China have become a hot topic in recent historical research. So far, they have been considered as the result of the normalisation process prompted by Nixon’s visit to Beijing in February 1972 and of Deng’s “Open Door” reforms.

In their just-published Modern Asian Studies special issue – ‘Circumventing the Cold War’ – Angela Romano and Valeria Zanier question this dominant narrative. By bringing together a team of historians with expertise in international, economic, business, and cultural history they prove that meaningful relations developed between Western Europe and communist China from the mid-1950s onwards.

In this lecture, Romano and Zanier will focus on how Britain, France, West Germany, and Italy carefully opened and nourished relations with Mao’s China via the activities of civil and economic actors, which allowed for the circumventing of the Cold War barriers defined by the superpowers. They will also reveal how Mao’s China favoured more dynamic relations with the capitalist world in order to boost economic modernisation and emancipate from the Soviet Union.

Dr Angela Romano

Dr Angela Romano

Dr Angela Romano is Senior Research Fellow at the European University Institute and project manager in the ERC-funded project ‘Looking West: the European Socialist regimes facing pan-European cooperation and the European Community‘ (or PanEur1970s). She was previously Honorary Fellow at the University of Glasgow and Marie Curie post-doctoral Fellow at LSE.

Her main research interests include history of the Cold War, European integration processes, and the CSCE process. She has published widely on these topics, and is currently finalising her second monograph (Routledge, late 2017), which analyses the role of the European Community in Cold War Europe, 1969-83.

Dr Valeria Zanier

Dr Valeria Zanier

Dr Valeria Zanier is currently a Research Fellow at the Department of International History, LSE. Her core academic interests are the history of contemporary China and the role of entrepreneurs in processes of political and economic modernisation.

On these topics she has published several articles in international journals and a monograph. She is now completing her new book on China’s economic relations with the ‘free world’ during the Cold War.


13 March 2017, 5.00pm - 6.30pm


Eirini Karamouzi
Phone: +44 114 222 2574
University of Sheffield staff profile


Jessop West (G.03)

Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 114 222 9702