February 21

This Day in History

General Interest

Feb 21, 1972:

Nixon in China

President Richard M. Nixon arrives in Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China, on the first presidential visit to the world's most populous nation. Given that the U.S. federal government had formally opposed China's communist government since it took power in 1949, Nixon was also the first president to visit a nation not recognized by the United States. In Beijing, President Nixon met with Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai.

At the Shanghai Communique on February 27, Nixon and the Chinese premier agreed to lessen the risk of war, expand cultural contacts between the two nations, and establish a permanent U.S. trade mission in China. In addition, the United States acknowledged China's "one-China" policy and agreed to a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from the island of Taiwan. The two leaders also secretly discussed ways in which they could cooperate to check the growth of Soviet power in Asia and elsewhere.

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