On this day February 28, 1972

U.S. President Richard Nixon’s visit to the People’s Republic of China concluded with the two countries issuing the Shanghai Communiqué, pledging to work toward the full normalization of diplomatic relations.

Richard Nixon meets with Mao Zedong

Richard Nixon meets with Mao Zedong

President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China was an important step in formally normalizing relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. It also marked the first time a U.S. president had visited the PRC, who at that time considered the U.S. one of its biggest enemies. The visit has become a metaphor for an unexpected and uncharacteristic action by a politician.

From February 21 to February 28, 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon traveled to Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Nixon held many meetings with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai during the trip, which included visits to the Great Wall, Hangzhou, and Shanghai.

At the conclusion of his trip, the United States and the PRC Governments issued the Shanghai Communiqué, a statement of their foreign policy views and a document that was to prove to remain the basis of Sino-American bilateral relations for many years. In the communiqué, both nations pledged to work toward the full normalization of diplomatic relations.

The U.S. acknowledged the notion that all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait maintain that there is only one China. Nixon and the U.S. government reaffirmed their interests in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question agreed by the Chinese themselves.

The statement enabled the U.S. and PRC to temporarily set aside the “crucial question obstructing the normalization of relations” concerning the political status of Taiwan and to open trade and other contacts.

However, the United States continued to maintain official relations with the government of the Republic of China in Taiwan until 1979 when the U.S. broke off relations with the Republic of China and established full diplomatic relations with the P.R.C.

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