Sino-Soviet-American relations during 1969 followed a chaotic course. Scholars have asserted in the past that the Sino-Soviet border conflict in March led to Sino-American rapprochement in December. However, evidence from China, the former socialist world and the United States undermines the interpretation of a purposeful and planned policy of any of the three actors to the others. None had a formulated policy or strategy in place. China lacked the governmental ability to chart a clear course, the United States underwent a presidential transition, and neither it nor the Soviet Union had meaningful diplomatic relations with the People's Republic. In this context, the border clashes, intended by China to reassert territorial claims on a small island, led to a complex web of actions and interactions between the three countries that was based on mutual misunderstanding, lack of communication, exaggerated threat perceptions and improvised decision making. Thus the outcome at the end of the year, the start of a friendly relationship between Beijing and Washington, was by no means the result of well-formulated and implemented policies.