Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Montage of images and link description. Nixons China Game Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
The Film & More
Enhanced Transcript


The American Experience: Nixon's China Game

For Brook Lapping:
Executive Producers: Norma Percy, Brian Lapping
Series Producer/director: Mark Anderson
Editor: Victoria Price

For THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE:
Producer/writer: William Lattanzi
Music: Michael Whalen
Narrator: David Ogden Stiers

For the Series:
Executive Producer: Margaret Drain
Senior Producer: Mark Samels
Series Host: David McCullough


David McCullough Series Host: Hello and welcome to The American Experience. I'm David McCullough.

"Secret," "secrecy," "elaborate deception," "kept in the dark," "dark glasses ... black raincoat," "no one would know." It's interesting how often these words and expressions are repeated as the extraordinary story you are about to see, unfolds.

"So off we went into the darkness," recalls one of the president's staff. "Try to find out what was really going on, and you were in the dark," remembers a journalist...
On July 15, 1971, in a television broadcast to the nation, President Richard Nixon announced that he had accepted an invitation to visit China.
Talk about the element of surprise! This was almost beyond belief.
Not only was America at war in Vietnam, not only was the Cold War the overshadowing reality of the time, the world divided in two exceedingly hostile camps, but it was Richard Nixon making the announcement, Nixon of all people, Nixon, the ultimate Cold Warrior, who was going to China!

Furthermore, the whole thing had been arranged in secrecy. Not even the Vice President or the Secretary of State had been told what was afoot.
"Unpredictability is the greatest asset or weapon that a leader can have," President Nixon once observed.

But the unpredictability of the trip to China was also greatly amplified by television. We all saw the toasts raised in Peking, the incongruously beaming faces of Nixon and Mao. And if the world hadn't necessarily turned upside down, we knew a very big change had taken place when at one banquet a Red Chinese orchestra broke out with "Home on the Range."

This is an amazing story and important history, and particularly fascinating as it is told from within. It is an insider's account, as they remember it.

continue...


The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline | Maps | People & Events | Teacher's Guide

©  New content 1999 PBS Online / WGBH