Nixon goes to China

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The phrase "Nixon goes to China", "Nixon to China", or "Nixon in China"[1] is a historical reference to United States US President Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to the People's Republic of China, where he met with Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong. Its basic import is that Nixon's well-established reputation as an anti-Communist "hawk" gave him political cover against domestic criticism for a move that might have been portrayed as conciliating a geopolitical rival. The metaphor is often expressed as the observation "Only Nixon could go to China" or "It took Nixon to go to China".

Context[edit]

The phrase had originated before Nixon's actual visit to China. An early use of the phrase is found in a December 1971 U.S. News & World Report interview with US Senate Democratic Leader Mike Mansfield in a section summary lead that read, "'Only a 'Nixon' Could Go to China." The actual quote from Mansfield, which he prefaces by noting he had heard it said earlier, was "Only a Republican, perhaps only a Nixon, could have made this break and gotten away with it."[2]

When he met President Nixon, Chairman Mao also joked that "I voted for you during your last election." Nixon laughed and said "you voted for the lesser of two evils,"[3] and Mao replied, "I like rightists, I am comparatively happy when these people on the right come into power."[3][4][5]

Outcome[edit]

Nixon's visit to China and Shanghai Communiqué was of particular significance because it marked the beginning of a thaw in China–United States relations.[6]

Internationally, Nixon's visit played a role in leading to the September 1972 Japan-China Joint Communiqué between Mao Zedong and Kakuei Tanaka.[7][8] During the negotiation, Mao also stated that he preferred the "rightist" party in Japan as well as the United States.[9]

In history and politics[edit]

The Nixon going to China phenomenon has also been compared to a more generic spectrum of left-wing and right-wing policies, and a proposed "Nixon paradox" describing which policies are difficult to implement based on a politician's declared values (left or right primarily).[5]

Similar historical events (pre-1972)[edit]

Similar political events (post-1972)[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The expression was used in the 1991 film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in which "only Nixon could go to China" is quoted by Spock as "an old Vulcan proverb."[23] In the context of the film, itself an allegory of thawing relations between the US and the former Soviet Union, it is given as a reason why James T. Kirk, a character with a history of armed conflict with the Klingons and a personal enmity for them after his son's death, should escort their chancellor to Earth for peace negotiations with the Federation.[24][25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Naím, Moisés (September 1, 2003). "Berlusconi Goes to China". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on April 8, 2005. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
  2. ^ "A Size-Up of President Nixon: Interview with Mike Mansfield, Senate Democratic Leader". U.S. News & World Report. December 6, 1971. p. 61.
  3. ^ a b Kalb, Marvin (May 9, 2013). The Road to War: Presidential Commitments Honored and Betrayed. Brookings Institution Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-8157-2443-8. Archived from the original on February 3, 2022. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  4. ^ "Nixon Asserts That Western Rightists Pleased Mao". The New York Times. May 2, 1978. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on February 3, 2022. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Cowen, Tyler; Sutter, Daniel (1998). "Why Only Nixon Could Go to China". Public Choice. 97 (4): 605–615. ISSN 0048-5829. Archived from the original on February 3, 2022. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  6. ^ "Easing China-US Tensions: Lessons From Nixon's 1972 Trip". thediplomat.com. Archived from the original on February 3, 2022. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  7. ^ "EXCERPT OF MAO ZEDONG'S CONVERSATION WITH JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER KAKUEI TANAKA". digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org. Archived from the original on September 15, 2021. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  8. ^ "Michael Schaller: Working Paper No. 2". nsarchive2.gwu.edu. Archived from the original on September 15, 2021. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  9. ^ "MAO ZEDONG, 'SETTLEMENT OF THE QUESTIONS OF RESTORATION OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BETWEEN CHINA AND JAPAN STILL DEPENDS ON THE GOVERNMENT OF THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY'". digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org. Archived from the original on February 3, 2022. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  10. ^ The Presidents- Andrew Johnson to Arthur 1865–1885. History Channel. 2005. Event occurs at 42:00–42:30. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  11. ^ Karabell, Zachary (2004). Chester Alan Arthur. The American Presidents Series. New York: Times Books. p. 10 – via Internet Archive.
  12. ^ a b c Elkin, Larry M. (September 12, 2011). "On Social Security, A Nixon-To-China Moment". Wall Street Pit. Archived from the original on December 1, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  13. ^ Girling, J. L. S. (1971). "Nixon's "Algeria"-Doctrine and Disengagement in Indochina". Pacific Affairs. 44 (4): 527–544. doi:10.2307/2756610. JSTOR 2756610.
  14. ^ Humes, James C. (October 23, 1998). Nixon's Ten Commandments of Leadership and Negotiation: His Guiding ... - James C. Humes - Google Books. ISBN 9780684848167. Archived from the original on February 13, 2022. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  15. ^ Ladley, Eric (August 2002). Nixon's China Trip - Eric Ladley - Google Books. ISBN 9780595239443. Archived from the original on February 13, 2022. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  16. ^ Greenway, HDS (April 28, 2009). "Hitting the 'Reset' Button". GlobalPost. Archived from the original on July 28, 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  17. ^ Sunstein, Cass R. (October 8, 2012). "In Praise of Turncoats, Richard Nixon to John Roberts". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  18. ^ Hoagland, Jim (September 14, 2002). "Bush Delivers on All Counts in Speech, Now It's Up to UN". Eugene Register-Guard. Archived from the original on February 13, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2020 – via Google News.
  19. ^ Chapman, Steve (February 17, 2007). "George W. Bush's 'Nixon to China' Moment". National Ledger. Archived from the original on July 28, 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  20. ^ "American's Nuclear Deal with India: Time to Decide". The Economist. August 28, 2008. Archived from the original on August 9, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2008.
  21. ^ Krauthammer, Charles (June 28, 2012). "Why Roberts Did It". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 1, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  22. ^ Freedman, Lawrence (April 30, 2018). "Trump-Goes-to-Korea Is the New Nixon-Goes-to-China". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on October 31, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  23. ^ The quote appears at 4:10 in this 4:59 clip from You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW9WGibEF04 Archived April 10, 2019, at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ Erdmann, Terry J. (September 23, 2008). Star Trek 101: A Practical Guide to Who, What, Where, and Why. Simon and Schuster. p. 230. ISBN 978-1-4391-1787-3. Archived from the original on February 13, 2022. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  25. ^ Laurie Mercier (2009). Social History of the United States: The 1970s. ABC-CLIO. p. 372. ISBN 978-1-85109-923-8. Archived from the original on February 13, 2022. Retrieved March 12, 2018.