And it did. At the very least, says Ms. MacMillan, “The breakthrough of the 1970’s, most would agree now … was good for both countries, and their new relationship had great potential — which still remains — to act as a stabilizing force in world politics.”
“For Nixon and the Americans,” she writes, “the visit was a bold and dramatic move that placed Nixon himself in the center of great events and the United States as the pivotal power between China and the Soviet Union.”
“For the Chinese … the visit was an acknowledgment of China’s importance in the world and marked the end to the isolation of the 1960s. Although the legacy of the Cultural Revolution was to lie heavily until Mao’s death, the beginnings of the reawakening and revitalization of China after 1976 lie in this period.”
It’s now generally accepted that rapprochement between the United States and China was inevitable, that, as Ms. MacMillan puts it, “the gap between 1979 and 1941 was an aberration that could not last … Nixon’s visit occurred because both sides came to the conclusion at the same time it was a good idea. Yet it took individuals — four men, in this case, to make it happen — Nixon and Mao, Mr. Kissinger and Chou. Two men who, for all their faults, possessed the necessary vision and determination and two men who had the talent, the patience, and the skill to make the vision a reality.”
As for the particulars of that vision, which were largely to shape and inform the subsequent Shanghai Communique, Ms. MacMillan writes:
“A couple of days before he left Washington, Nixon jotted down his key ideas on one of his ever-present yellow legal pads:
‘What they want:
1.Build up their world credentials
3.Get U.S. out of Asia
‘What we want:
1. Indo-China (?)
2. Communication To restrain Chinese expansion in Asia
3. In future Reduce threat of confrontation by China Super Power
‘What we both want:View Entire Story
By Elaine Donnelly
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