On his fourth day in China, President Nixon left the meeting room and ventured out to see some of China’s most famous sights. The first stop on the agenda, about an hour and a half drive from Peking, was the Ba Da Ling section of the Great Wall of China. The sheer size of the Great Wall has perpetuated a popular myth that the Wall can be seen from space, but this is not in fact the case. However, the size of the Great Wall is still impressive considering it is hundreds of years old and was most likely worked on by millions of people. The President and his party, which included the First Lady, Secretary of State Will Rogers, and a handful of Chinese officials, spent about an hour admiring the majesty of the Great Wall before starting the drive to their next destination, the Ming Dynasty Imperial Tombs.
The site for the tombs was chosen in the early fifteenth century by the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty and is situated about 50 kilometers north of Peking. Liu Chun, the Director of the Ting Ling Museum, escorted President Nixon and the First Lady, along with their entourage, on a tour of the Ming Tombs. The tour lasted an hour and a half. The presidential party then drove back to Peking, arriving at 2:18 p.m. after a very busy morning.
President Nixon also had brief meetings with his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and his Chief-of -Staff Bob Haldeman. At 5:20 p.m. the President entered a meeting with Premier Chou En-lai that ended three hours later, just in time for a Peking Duck Dinner hosted by the premier. Dinner ended at 10 o’ clock and the President returned promptly to his lodgings, where he met with his advisors for an hour before retiring for the evening.
Harmony Barker is a Research Assistant at the Richard Nixon Foundation.