1972 Nixon visit to China

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Image:Nixon Mao 1972-02-29.png
Richard Nixon (right) meets with Mao Zedong in 1972.
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Pat Nixon in the People's Republic of China

The 1972 Nixon visit to China was the first step in formally normalizing relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China. It also marked the first time a U.S. president had visited the PRC, which at the time considered the United States one of its biggest enemies. From February 21 to February 28, 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon traveled to Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai.

In July 1971, Nixon's National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger had secretly visited Beijing and laid the groundwork for Richard Nixon's visit to China. Almost as soon as the American President arrived in the Chinese capital he was summoned for a meeting with Chairman Mao who, unbeknown to the Americans, had almost died nine days earlier but was at that point feeling strong enough to meet Nixon. Secretary of State Bill Rogers was excluded from this meeting and the only other American present was National Security Council staffer (and later U.S. Ambassador to China) Winston Lord. To avoid embarrassing Rogers, Lord was cropped out of all the official photographs of the meeting.<ref>Kissinger Years of Upheaval p. 65</ref>

Nixon held many meetings with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai during the trip, which included visits to the Great Wall, Hangzhou and Shanghai. At the conclusion of his trip, the United States and the PRC Governments issued the Shanghai Communiqué, a statement of their foreign policy views and a document that was to prove to remain the basis of Sino-American bilateral relations for many years. In the communiqué, both nations pledged to work toward the full normalization of diplomatic relations. The U.S. acknowledged the notion that all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait maintain that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China. Nixon and the U.S. government reaffirmed their interests in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question agreed by the Chinese themselves. The statement enabled the U.S. and PRC to temporarily set aside the "crucial question obstructing the normalization of relations" <ref>http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/ziliao/3602/3604/t18006.htm</ref> concerning the political status of Taiwan and to open trade and other contacts. However, the United States continued to maintain official relations with the government of the Republic of China in Taiwan until 1979 when the U.S. broke off relations with the Republic of China and established full diplomatic relations with the P.R.C.

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1972 Nixon visit to China

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