Max Lerner, syndicated American journalist and known Nixon opponent, said of President Nixon’s announcement of his planned trip to Beijing, “The politics of surprise leads through the Gates of Astonishment into the Kingdom of Hope.” That hope being the framework for a future generation of peace.
When Air Force One, carrying the President and select staff, landed in Beijing on February 21, 1972, a new era of Sino–U.S. relations commenced. A surprise no longer, the gates of hope opened to RN’s diplomatic initiative for peace. Exiting Air Force one and arriving at the bottom steps of the ramp, President Nixon extended his hand in a gesture of respect to Zhou En-Lai, Premier of the People’s Republic of China. It was a handshake that “came over the vastest ocean in the world–twenty-five years of no communication.”
President Nixon’s week long trip in China produced a joint communiqué setting forth mutual agreements where real progress towards a long-lasting peace could be bridged. It was a document that recognized the two countries’ inherent differences, which China had vocally stipulated, yet verbalized a commitment to a world of peace and stability.
The ingenuity of RN’s trip to China not only lay in the methods of securing the pivotal overture, but also in the process of crafting the joint communiqué–the concrete document that would show the meeting to be a resounding success.
RN’s meeting with Zhou En-lai on the second day of the trip evidences the President’s seemingly flawless command of diplomacy and geopolitical knowledge. It would help sway the language of the communiqué. Holding firm to pragmatism–contrary to doctrinaire or pure principle–RN advised Premier Zhou En-lai on realigning the Chinese perception against U.S. forces in the Asia pacific region, particularly in Taiwan and Japan. His arguments, advocating that U.S forces must remain, can be seen below.