President Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1972 was an iconic event. A brilliant diplomatic stroke, the trip melted decades of deep freeze between two of the world’s great powers and realigned the geopolitical triangle with the Soviet Union. It was a savvy political move, too, clinching Nixon’s image as a foreign policy virtuoso and helping ensure his re-election later that year despite his inability to solve the quagmire in Vietnam. Nixon’s China trip was one of those rare political coups that seemed utterly impossible beforehand and unavoidably logical afterward.
Yet more than anything, it was terrific theater. To see Nixon, that beady-eyed Communist-hater, toasting the Mao suits in the Great Hall of the People, climbing the Great Wall and meeting Mao Tse-tung himself in the Communist Party’s inner sanctum – it was mesmerizing. No one cared that the visit was largely symbolic and light on content. It was great symbolism at play. [Full Text]
Related Xinhua report: China still remembers Nixon 35 years after “ice-breaking tour”