February 25, 1972 – The Forbidden City
President Nixon’s last full day in Peking began with a tour of the Forbidden City, which is now one of Beijing’s biggest tourist attractions. Situated in the middle of Beijing, it was the center of Chinese politics for five hundred years, serving as the imperial palace for both the Ming and Qing dynasties. President Nixon and members of his official party arrived at there just after 10 o’ clock on the morning of the 25th and were greeted at the Gate of Supreme Harmony by Wang Yeh-chin. Wang, a noted archaeologist and an employee of the Palace Museum housed in the Forbidden City, conducted a tour of the city for the President and his party, which included a visit to the main throne room of the Emperor, the Imperial residences, and the Palace Museum. The tour came to an end at noon, at which time the President returned to his residence.
President Nixon spent most of the afternoon in meetings with his staff before a brief meeting with Premier Chou En-lai at 5:45 p.m. Immediately following this meeting, there was a banquet hosted by the President and the First Lady for Premier Chou and the official delegation of the People’s Republic of China. The President and his party celebrated their last evening in Peking with American music and California champagne. After the banquet ended, the President returned to his residence and managed to fit in a few more staff meetings to prepare for the next day’s travel.
Harmony Barkier is a Research Assistant at the Richard Nixon Foundation.