Harvey J. Feldman, 77; Ambassador Helped Plan Nixon's 1972 Visit to China

Monday, March 9, 2009

Harvey J. Feldman, 77, an East Asian specialist at the State Department who served as U.S. ambassador to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, died Feb. 24 at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. He had aortic dissection, a tear in the artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Since 1994, Mr. Feldman had been a distinguished fellow in China policy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy organization.

Mr. Feldman spent 30 years working at the State Department before retiring in 1986 as an alternate U.S. representative to the United Nations, with the rank of ambassador.

He spent significant portions of his career in China, Taiwan and Japan, and helped plan President Richard Nixon's groundbreaking visit to China in 1972 as a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Council. The trip helped start the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and communist China.

Later, as Washington-based director of the Office of the Republic of China Affairs, Mr. Feldman helped create the American Institute in Taiwan, which replaced the U.S. embassy in Taipei after diplomatic relations were shifted to Beijing. The institute carries out all the essential functions of an official U.S. embassy.

Mr. Feldman was one of the drafters of the Taiwan Relations Act, legislation that defines the U.S. relationship with Taiwan in part by providing for its defense against China. His honors included the State Department Distinguished Service Award.

After settling in Washington in 1990, he became a partner in Global Business Access, a consulting firm formed by retired senior diplomats.

He also was executive director of a joint presidential commission that recommended the creation of Radio Free Asia.

Harvey Julien Feldman, an Arlington resident, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was a graduate of the University of Chicago, where he also received a master's degree in Chinese studies in 1954.

He spoke Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Bulgarian and at one point was deputy chief of mission of the embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria. He was editor of the book "Constitutional Reform and the Future of the Republic of China" (1991) and an editor the book "Taiwan in a Time of Transition" (1988). He also was a frequent contributor to newspaper opinion pages.

He was a board member of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and the U.S.-India Institute.

His marriage to Carol Borja Feldman ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 33 years, Laura Sherman of Arlington; two sons from his first marriage, Chris Feldman of Austin and Peter Feldman of Indianapolis; a son from his second marriage, Alex Feldman of Arlington; a sister; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

-- Adam Bernstein

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