President Nixon's Visit to China

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PRESIDENT NIXON’S VISIT TO CHINA

After the 1948 Communist revolution in China, the United States refused to recognize the new government and backed the government of Taiwan. In the early 1970s, for political and economic reasons, China and the United States reached out to each other. The U.S. wanted to end its involvement in the war in Vietnam without causing a larger Asian conflict, President Nixon needed a boost to his re-election chances, and the large Chinese market offered hope for expanding trade to a troubled American economy. China was dealing with the huge costs of the destructive Cultural Revolution. It wanted the U.S. to officially recognize the government of the People’s Republic of China, the China seat in the United Nations, and access to Western technology.

Former President Richard Nixon traveled to China in February 1972, where he met with China’s chairman, Mao Zedong, and held talks with Premier Zhou Enlai of the State Council of China on ending tensions between the U.S. and China and improving trade relations. He was the first U.S. President to visit China. At the end of his trip, the United States and Chinese Governments issued the “Shanghai Communiqué”, which was the first official treaty signed after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. In the treaty, both nations agreed to conduct their relations with respect for each other’s governments and pledged to work toward full normalization of diplomatic relations. The U.S. acknowledged the Chinese position that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of it. China agreed not to invade Taiwan and end relations with the Soviet Union. The efforts of these two former enemies brought an important change in world politics, helped the United States to withdraw from Vietnam, and once again gave China a place among the powerful nations of the world.

During the 1970s, relations slowly improved between the United States and China. Even though the Chinese economy had...
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