HIS474 '03 - 29 APR 08 HIS 474 Nixon's Visit to China(1972...

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29 APR 08 HIS 474 Nixon’s Visit to China (1972) In February of 1972, President Richard M. Nixon of the United States made history when he made a visit to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and engaged in what was quickly termed, “ping-pong diplomacy.” During the President’s seven day visit to the People’s Republic of China, he visited three major cities and attended many social functions held by Chairman Mao Zedong. His most notable event was the participation in Sino-U.S. treaty. The first diplomatic act came from China in April of 1971 when they invited the American table tennis team to China when they were in Japan. This, “Good-will” mission sparked the notion of ping-pong diplomacy and opening relations with the People’s Republic of China. Many articles that have been written describe how the President’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger arranged for President Nixon’s visit during a trip to Pakistan in 1971. It was not until July of that year that President Nixon said that he would visit the PRC before May of the next year. The coverage of this momentous announcement was quite different within the two nations. In the United States, President Nixon was broadcasted over the radio and television wavelengths and the public was made very aware of his intentions. However, in the People’s Republic of China the only report that President Nixon was coming to visit was a small box on the front page of the, “People’s Daily” newspaper. 1 But what was the reason that prompted Nixon to go to China in the first place? 1 Jonathan D. Spence, The Search for Modern China (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1999), 597.
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Historians will argue and have their disagreements, but there are two main theories that seem to hold the most weight. The first is that President Nixon wanted to be the first U.S. President to visit the People’s Republic of China. This was significant because China was not open to the outside world and very limited access was given to the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). The other opinion was that Nixon was attempting to open trade relations between the US and PRC because he saw the tension that existed between the neighboring communist countries and wanted to drive a wedge between them. By this time the war in Southeast Asia (Indochina/Vietnam) was going nowhere in a hurry. With the USSR fully supporting the North Vietnamese and mounting tensions between the USSR and the PRC, the United States knew that the quicker they could, “make friends” with China, the harder it would be for the USSR to funnel supplies into Vietnam through China. Behind the scenes though, Spence says that diplomats were hammering out a treaty with Chinese officials while President Nixon was at the Great Wall, Ming Tombs and enduring the endless rounds of banquets. What transpired in the following days is now known as the, “ Joint communiqué. It was not a real treaty because nothing was resolved with this document; it
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HIS474 '03 - 29 APR 08 HIS 474 Nixon's Visit to China(1972...

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