February 4, 1979 – a busy day in an even busier week in 1979.
Beginning with reports on the first visit to the U.S. of a Chinese leader in over 30 years. In December of 1978, President Carter announced a normalization of relations between the U.S. and The People’s Republic of China. Shortly after, Washington received an official visit from China’s leader Deng Xiaoping, the first time a Chinese head of state had done so since 1949 when the U.S. broke relations with China over the new Communist regime of Mao Zedong. The move signaled a new era in East-West relations as well as opening the door to a flood of trade between both countries.
Of course, not everybody was happy with it. The Chinese Nationals, living on the island of Formosa weren’t happy, nor were the staunch anti-communists in the U.S., who were convinced it was a victory for Communism. Nonetheless, the diminutive Deng went on a tour of the U.S., visiting cities and discussing trade and cultural exchange.
On the other side of the world, Iran was continuing its upheaval with the arrival of the Ayatollah Khomeini from exile in Paris. He was greeted by thousands of supporters in Tehran. But the purge, which eventually saw the deaths of supporters of the old regime of The Shah and a sweep to the side of Fundamentalism was just in its beginnings. First to be demanded he step down was the provisional head of the Iranian government, Shapour Bakhtiar. He refused to resign, saying he was legitimately elected to office. But The Ayatollah wasn’t taking no for an answer. Things were going to get more and more interesting as the days went on.
And the week saw the funeral of a much respected, and sole head of the Liberal wing of The Republican Party; Nelson Rockefeller, who died earlier in the week. Commentaries follow announcement of Rockefeller’s death lamented the loss of this once-potent wing of the Party; a wing which had come into rapid decline over the years with the Republican’s dramatic shift to the right since Barry Goldwater’s rise to power in 1964 and their almost total demise by 1968. Henry Kissinger eulogized his former colleague and vice-President to Gerald Ford, saying Nelson Rockefeller would have made a wonderful President, but fate had different plans.
And that’s just a tiny portion of what went on, this February 4th in 1979, capping off a momentous week and reported by CBS Radio News.