February 1972 – Nixon Visits China – Past Daily Reference Room
NBC Radio – Reports from China – February 25-28, 1972 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
During a Presidency that witnessed many dramatic events during his tenure, President Nixon’s visit to The People’s Republic Of China fifty years ago this past February probably stands out as one of the most positive achievements, certainly one that goes down as a major step in diplomacy and in breaking with the isolation that fell over China throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
The week-long visit, from February 21 to 28, 1972, allowed the American public to view images of China for the first time in over two decades. Throughout the week the President and his senior advisers engaged in substantive discussions with the PRC leadership, including a meeting with Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong, while First Lady Pat Nixon toured schools, factories and hospitals in the cities of Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai with the large American press corps in tow.
Nixon dubbed his visit “the week that changed the world”, a descriptor that continues to echo in the political lexicon. Repercussions of the Nixon visit continue to this day; while near-immediate results included a significant shift in the Cold War balance—driving a wedge between the Soviet Union and China, resulting in significant Soviet concessions to the U.S.—the trip spawned China’s opening to the world and economic parity with capitalist countries.
The relationship between China and the U.S. is now one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world, and every successive U.S. president, except Jimmy Carter, have visited China. The trip is consistently ranked by historians, scholars, and journalists as one of the most important—if not the most important—visits by a U.S. president anywhere. Also, a “Nixon to China” moment has since become a metaphor to refer to the ability of a politician with an unassailable reputation among their supporters for representing and defending their values to take actions that would draw their criticism and even opposition if taken by someone without those credentials.
Here are most of the hourly reports via NBC Radio News covering the trip from February 21-28, 1972.
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