Symbolic Value of Nixon’s visit to the PRC
In the early 1970s, the Sino-Soviet split resulted in the further escalation of tensions on the continent. By this time the Soviet Union had reached a nuclear parity with the United States, which meant that the latter could not afford to miss an opportunity to remedy its souring relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In a bid to pave the way towards rapprochement between the two countries, President Nixon paid a visit on his Chinese counterpart Mao Zedong. The leaders had a full-dress discussion about the impact of a possible thaw in relations between their countries.
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Nixon’s trip to China is important because it ushered in a new milestone in the history of Sino-American relations and reinforced the effects of a policy of detente. This watershed event in the US history had an importance far beyond the bounds of Nixon’s bilateral relations with China. Many analysts and political scientists imply that President Obama could draw a lesson from Nixon’s dealings with the PRC in his efforts to mend diplomatic fences with the rogue state of Iran. For the sake of brevity, Nixon’s globetrotting in general and the trip to China in particular demonstrate that the US can succeed by going the extra mile diplomatically rather than resorting to sapping sanctions and other coercive measures.
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Although no concrete proposals were put forward during Nixon’s visit to the PRC, it was important for its symbolic value. Tad Szulc, the author of the article, emphasized the fact that President Nixon was the first American leader to go ahead with a state visit to the communist state. Three years earlier he departed in Rumania, another bastion of communism on the Eurasian continent. This is interesting because Nixon was one of the most fervent opponents of communism on the American political horizon. It is worth mentioning that the US had not maintained diplomatic relations with the PRC at that point, as it supported the Chinese government-in-exile in Taiwan.
Both Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during their official visits to China did all the necessary spadework for the normalization of relations with the PRC. Eventually, the countries established diplomatic ties in 1979.