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50th Anniversary of Nixons's Visit to China

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Authored by Sean Waite
Published on 21st February, 2022 2 min read

50th Anniversary of Nixons's Visit to China

An image of Nixon in China.

Today (21/02/2022) marks the 50th anniversary of President Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972, which signaled the end of the decades long hostility between the two nations. Since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the US had only recognized the Chinese Nationalist Party in Taiwan rather than the communist People’s Republic of China. Consequently, this visit was the first official face-to-face between representatives of the two global superpowers.

Nixon had been a staunch anti-communist during the 1940s and 1950s but did not pass on the political opportunity to further exacerbate the 1960s Sino-Soviet split. His visit to China, a groundbreaking political move that marked the start of more harmonious relations between the two powers, had originally been facilitated by the ‘ping-pong’ diplomacy of the 1971. In extending an olive branch to China, Nixon hoped to further isolate the Soviet Union in the wake of the deterioration of relations between the two communist countries, as well as gain diplomatic leverage in the ongoing Vietnam War. 

This momentous occasion involved Nixon meeting with Mao Zedong and resulted in the Shanghai Communiqué, a diplomatic agreement to minimise tensions between the two nations. The document stated that neither nation would “seek hegemony” in the Asia-Pacific region. Additionally, the United States recognised the ‘One-China’ policy in relation to Taiwan in exchange for assurances that China would seek a peaceful settlement over the conflict. The two nations formally normalised diplomatic relations in 1979.

As relations between China and the United States continue to have massive implications across the globe, it is important to remember this landmark occasion.

Image sourced from Wikipedia.

Authored by Sean Waite

Sean Waite

Sean Waite is a Political Science graduate of Birmingham and Aarhus University.

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