Richard Nixon: Speeches, Writings, Documents

By Richard Nixon; Rick Perlstein | Go to book overview

24.
“One China” (February 24, 1972)

Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong's “serious and
frank exchange of views on Sino-U.S. relations” was
actually if anything less profound than the 1959
“Kitchen Debate” with Khrushchev; Mao was so old
and frail Nixon almost didn't get to meet him. And
Nixon's grand dream for his historic China trip—un-
leashing Chinese pressure to end the Vietnam War—
was a fantasy. But the symbolism of the week-long
summit was colossal. All three networks devoted four
hours of live coverage to the opening banquet. The
most important diplomatic result, negotiated over
days-long marathon sessions—the State Department
was left out of the proceedings—concerned Taiwan,
which China claimed as part of its territory, but which
America backed as an independent anti-Communist
nation. The new status quo would be a strange, Kafka-
esque “one China” policy—basically, an agreement to
pretend the problem didn't exist.

The communique´ is ironic for what it nearly omits.
There is only one tiny paragraph on trade. As Kissinger
whispered to Nixon, “The maximum amount of bilat-
eral trade possible between us, even if we make great
efforts, is infinitesimal in terms of our total economy.”

-223-

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