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United Nations representation of China
Sino-Soviet relations
Sino-U.S. relations
U.S.-Soviet relations
Nixon/Kissinger opening to China
Korean War
Vietnam War
Chinese Communists vs. Nationalists
Chinese demoestic politics
China as nuclear power
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Timeline: Nixon's China Game

1945 - 1949 |  1950 - 1954 |  1955 - 1959 |  1960 - 1964 |  1965 - 1969 |  1970 - 1974 |  1975 - 1979 


Highlights: 1970-1974
  • Nixon states desire to visit China
  • U.S. ends restrictions on travel to China
  • U.S. Ping-Pong team visits China
  • U.S. ends Chinese trade embargo
  • UN admits PRC and expels Taiwan
  • Nixon visits China
  • U.S. pulls troops from Vietnam
  • U.S. and China establish liaison offices
 
1970 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974
 
Jan. 8 State Department announces that Warsaw talks between U.S. and China will resume on January 20.It is the first time a U.S. spokesperson refers to the "People's Republic of China" by its official name.
(Themes)
Jan. 20 Ambassador Stoessel and other State Department officials meet with Lei Yang and aides in Warsaw. Stoessel assures China that Nixon wants to reduce American military presence in Southeast Asia, and would be willing to back away from the U.S. policy toward Taiwan and Chiang Kai-shek of the past two decades. Stoessel also suggests that the U.S. could send a representative to Beijing, or receive a Chinese emissary in Washington -- the first such offer in two decades.

Feb. 18 In an address to Congress, President Nixon states that the U.S. has made unilateral overtures to China "which underlined our willingness to have a more normal and constructive relationship," adding that "we have avoided dramatic gestures which might invite dramatic rebuffs."

Feb. 20 At continuing talks in Warsaw, Lei Yang tells Stoessel, "If the United States government wishes to send a representative of ministerial rank or a special envoy to Beijing . . . the Chinese Government will be willing to receive him."

Feb. 21 Kissinger begins secret talks with North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho.

Mar. 15 U.S. State Department further eases restrictions on travel to China.

Apr. 21 On the same day that Soviet Party leader Leonid Brezhnev condemns the anti-Soviet campaign in China, the Beijing People's Daily publishes an editorial calling for the overthrow of the Soviet government.A joint editorial in three leading Chinese newspapers the next day criticizes the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and attacks the Brezhnev Doctrine.

Apr. 29 Further easing of U.S. trade restriction on export goods to China.

May 1 U.S. troops invade Cambodia.

May 18 China cancels the next day's ambassadorial meetings in Warsaw to protest U.S. invasion of Cambodia.

Jun. 20 China suspends Warsaw talks

Jun. 30 U.S. invasion of Cambodia ends.

Oct. 5 In a Time magazine interview, President Nixon states, "If there is anything I want to do before I die, it is to go to China."

Oct. 25 White House press secretary Ron Ziegler publicly hints at the continued shift toward a U.S. "two-China" policy when he announces, "The U.S. opposes the admission of the Beijing regime into the U.N. at the expense of the expulsion of the Republic of China."


President Nixon asks Pakistani President Yahya Khan to pass on a secret proposal to China: the U.S. wants to conduct high-level talks in Beijing, and promises it won't enter into any anti-China alliance with the U.S.S.R..

Nov. 10 Yahya Khan passes on Nixon's proposal to Chou En-lai. After conferring with Mao Tse-tung, Chou tells Yahya Khan: "We welcome the proposal from Washington for face-to-face discussions.We would be glad to receive a high-level person for this purpose, to discuss the withdrawal of American forces from Taiwan." A few weeks later Yahya Khan tells his foreign secretary Sultan Muhammed Khan of Chou's reply, and hands off planning to Sultan Khan.

Dec. 9 After weeks of silence, Nixon and Kissinger receive Chou En-lai's reply: In order to discuss the vacation of Chinese territories called Taiwan, a special envoy of President Nixon will be most welcome in Beijing. They reply that they can send an envoy, but that talks cannot be confined only to Taiwan.

Dec. 10 At a news conference, Nixon states there has been no change in U.S. policy opposing China's admission to the U.N., but says the U.S. will continue easing trade and travel restrictions and trying to open up contacts with Beijing.

 
1971 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974
 
Feb. 8 South Vietnam invades Laos, with U.S. air support. Publicly attacking the invasion as a "grave provocation," China also terminates its secret exchange of letters with the White House, via Pakistan.

Feb. 17 President Nixon insists that U.S. operations in Laos "should not be interpreted by Communist China as being a threat to them."

Feb. 25 In his second annual State of the World address to Congress, Nixon states "The United States is prepared to see the People's Republic of China play a constructive role in the family of nations." It is the first time the president refers to the P.R.C. by its formal name.

Mar. 15 The U.S. State Department ends restrictions on U.S. travel to China. The same day, it is announced that the U.S. is working to re-open the stalled Warsaw talks between Washington and Beijing.

Apr. 6 The U.S. Ping-Pong team, in Japan for the 31st World Table Tennis Championship, receives a surprise invitation from their Chinese colleagues for an all-expense paid visit to the P.R.C.. Time magazine calls the overture "the ping heard round the world."

Apr. 10 Nine American table tennis players, four officials, and two spouses arrive in China, ushering in an era of "Ping-Pong diplomacy." Ten journalists, including five Americans, are also invited to cover the team's visit, ending the information blockade from the People's Republic in place since 1949. Together, they are the first group of Americans allowed into China since the Communist takeover in 1949.

Apr. 11-17 The American team's visit to China receives extensive U.S. media coverage.On April 14, Premier Chou En-lai tells the visiting Americans, "You have opened a new chapter in the relations of the American and Chinese people."

Apr. 16 President Nixon tells American Society of Newspaper Editors that he hopes he can visit China some day.

Late Apr. Nixon and Kissinger receive Chou En-lai's message, through Pakistani intermediaries, that China is willing to receive Nixon's envoy, dropping the condition that talks be confined to Taiwan.Says a jubilant Kissinger, "This is the most important communication that has come to an American President since the end of World War II."

Apr. 26 A special presidential commission advises that while the P.R.C. should be seated in the U.N., "under no circumstance" should the Republic of China be expelled.

Apr. 27 U.S. administration officials reveal that Romanian Vice Premier Gogu Radulescu acted as an intermediary with China during his 1970 and 1971 visits with Chou En-lai, relaying U.S. hopes for improved relations with China.

April 28 U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers states that a Nixon visit to China "might well be possible" if U.S.-Sino relations continue to improve.


Nixon asks Chinese leaders (via Pakistanis) not to invite other U.S. politicians--especially Democrats--to visit China.

Apr. 29 President Nixon tells journalists, "I hope and, as a matter of fact, I expect to visit mainland China sometime in some capacity."

Apr. 30 Life magazine publishes a December 18, 1970 interview with Mao Tse-tung, in which the Chairman welcomes Nixon to come to China for talks, "either as a tourist or as President."

May 7 U.S. Treasury further eases trade restrictions with China.

Jun. 1 President Nixon announces that "a significant change has taken place among the members of the U.N. on the admission of mainland China, " adding that the administration was "analyzing the situation" and would announce its position at the fall session of the U.N..
Jun. 10 The White House announces the end of its 21-year embargo on trade with China.

Jul. 9 Feigning illness during a trip to Pakistan for talks with President Yahya Khan, Henry Kissinger takes a secret 4 a.m. flight to China.

Jul. 11 Following two days of secret talks with Chou En-lai, during which Kissinger promises several concessions on Taiwan, Chou En-lai extends an invitation to President Nixon to visit China.

Jul. 15 In a nationally televised surprise announcement, Nixon reveals that he will visit China in early 1972.

Jul. 25 An article in the Soviet newspaper Pravda warns that "any schemes to use the contacts between Beijing and Washington for some 'pressure' on the Soviet Union . . . are nothing but the result of a loss of touch with reality."

Jul. 28 The U.S. government announces the suspension of intelligence-gathering missions over China.

Aug. 2 Secretary of State Rogers announces that the U.S. will end its 20-year policy of opposition to Communist China's admission to the U.N., but would not vote to expel the Nationalists.


An article in the Chinese Communist journal Honqgi offers an explanation for China's recent overtures to the United States: China must ally itself with its "secondary enemy," the United States, in order to "isolate and strike at" its "primary enemy," the Soviet Union.

Aug. 3 The Republic of China's foreign ministry condemns America's proposed "two-China" policy as a "gross insult to the U.N. charter."

Aug. 5 In a New York Times interview, Chou En-lai stresses that "the question of Vietnam and Indochina should be solved, and not the question of Taiwan or other questions,"but states that China would refuse to enter the U.N. so long as Nationalist China remains seated.


An editorial in the People's Daily denounces Roger's proposed "two-China" policy, reiterating the position that Taiwan is China's internal affair. On August 17, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issues an even harsher denunciation.

Sep. 13 Marshal Lin Piao, formerly Mao's strongest military supporter,is killed in an airplane crash while fleeing to Moscow.He was presumable seeking Soviet help to block a rapprochement between China and the United States.
Sep. 16 In an unscheduled news conference, President Nixon says the U.S. will support the P.R.C.'s seating in the U.N. Security Council because it "reflects the realities of the situation," but adds that "we will vote against the expulsion of the Republic of China."

Oct. 4 Secretary of State Rogers warns the U.N. General Assembly that the expulsion of the Republic of China would weaken the U.N. as a whole.

Oct. 20 Henry Kissinger visits China to prepare for Nixon's upcoming trip.

Oct. 25 After a week of intense debate, the U.N. General Assembly votes to admit the People's Republic of China and expel Nationalist China. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. George Bush later complains that Kissinger's presence in Beijing during the vote undercut the American effort to preserve Taiwan's seat.

Oct. 26 Chiang Kai-shek declares he will not recognize the "illegal action" by which the U.N. has expelled Taiwan.

Oct. 29 U.S. Senate, angered over Taiwan's ouster from the United Nations, defeats the 1972 foreign aid bill, which contains $141 million for the U.N..

Dec. 3 India, supported by Soviet aid, invades Pakistan. Both the U.S. and China side with Pakistan.
Dec. 12 China releases two American prisoners.

Dec. 26 United States planes bomb targets in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam. The attacks continue for five days.

 
1972 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974
 
Feb. 14 New communications satellite and Beijing receiving station are prepared to broadcast Nixon's upcoming visit.

Feb. 17 After a farewell ceremony on the White House lawn, President and Mrs. Nixon depart for Hawaii, en route to China.

Feb. 21-27 President and Mrs. Nixon arrive in Beijing for a eight-day visit filled with official meetings, sightseeing and cultural events. On the first day, Nixon and Kissinger meet with Chou En-lai and Mao Tse-tung. That evening, the entire presidential party attends an official welcome banquet hosted by Chou En-lai in the Great Hall of the People.

Feb. 27 Shanghai Communiqué, issued jointly by U.S. and China, pledges both countries to work for "normalization" of relations. In it, the U.S. acknowledges that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China, and agrees to withdraw its military forces from the island.

Mar. 2 Secretary of State Rogers assures Nationalist China's ambassador to the U.S. James Shen of U.S. commitment to its mutual defense treaty with Taiwan.

Mar. 30 North Vietnam invades South Vietnam. On April 6, U.S. resumes massive bombing of North Vietnam.

Apr. 12 Chinese Ping-Pong team visits U.S. on two-week tour, including White House reception with President Nixon.

Apr. 16 Two giant pandas, a gift from Chou En-lai to "the American people," arrive at Washington's National Zoo.A week earlier, the U.S. had presented China with two musk oxen.

May 22 Nixon arrives in Moscow for a summit with Soviet leaders. On May 26, Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev sign the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I), a cornerstone of détente between the two nations.

Jun. 17 Police arrest five men for burglary of Democratic Party headquarters in Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C.
Jun. 19 Kissinger returns to Beijing for a seven-day visit "to promote normalization."

Jun. 23 U.S. House of Representatives Majority and Minority Leaders arrive in China for two-week visit.

Jul. 30 The Associated Press and Xinhua news agency exchange news and photos, in the first regular news contact between the U.S. and China since 1949.

Aug. 12 Chinese Foreign Ministry opens new department to deal with U.S. and Pacific affairs.

Oct. 26 Henry Kissinger announces that "peace is at hand" in Vietnam. Three days earlier, citing progress in peace talks, the U.S. suspended bombing of North Vietnam.

Nov. 7 Richard Nixon is elected to a second term in the greatest Republican landslide victory in history.
Nov. 22 U.S. lifts 22-year-old ban on travel to China

Dec. 18 U.S. resumes bombing of North Vietnam in heaviest bombing of the war. Two weeks later, citing progress in the peace talks, the air raids are halted.

 
1973 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974
 
Jan. 27 Peace Accords signed in Paris, calling for cease-fire in Vietnam War.

Feb. 22 Following Kissinger's five-day visit to Beijing, the U.S. and China announce their agreement to establish "liaison offices" in each other's capitals.

Mar. 12-15 The last three U.S. prisoners held in China are released.

Mar. 17 In letters to Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai, Nixon reiterates their "joint determination" to normalize relations.

Mar. 29 Last U.S. troops leave Vietnam.

Apr. 20 Beijing People's Daily severely criticizes U.S. bombing in Cambodia as a serious violation of the Paris peace agreements.

Apr. 30 Nixon chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, chief adviser for domestic affairs John Erlichman, presidential counsel John Dean, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst resign, following their implication in the Watergate cover-up.
May 1 U.S. and Chinese Liaison Offices open in Beijing and Washington, D.C., operating as de facto embassies, even though full diplomatic relations have yet to be established.

May 17 Nationally televised Watergate Senate hearings begin.
Jun. 17 Leonid Brezhnev arrives in Washington for U.S.-Soviet Summit.

Jun. 22 U.S. and Soviet Union sign agreement aimed at preventing nuclear war.

Jun. 26 New York Times reports that Henry Kissinger met with the head of China's Liaison Office in Washington to assure him that accords signed at the U.S.-Soviet Summit did not constitute a superpower alliance against other countries. Secretary of State Rogers makes a similar disclaimer the same day.

Jul. 4 Chase Manhattan Bank and the Bank of China establish a corresponding relationship, the first time a U.S. bank has represented a Chinese bank in the West since 1949.

Jul. 8 U.S. Postal Service announces beginning of parcel post delivery between the U.S. and China.

Aug. 22 Henry Kissinger becomes Secretary of State.
Oct. 10 Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigns. Two days later, President Nixon names House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford as the new vice president.
Nov. 11 Secretary of State Kissinger returns to China for a five-day visit, after which he states that the Watergate crisis is having no impact on U.S-China relations.

 
1974 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974
 
Apr. 10 In a major address to the U.N. General Assembly, Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping outlines a new, more moderate Chinese foreign policy.

May 9 U.S. House Judiciary Committee opens impeachment hearings against President Nixon.
Aug. 8 With an impeachment trial imminent, Richard Nixon becomes the only president in U.S. history to resign from office.
Aug. 9 Newly sworn-in President Gerald Ford gives Huang Zhen, the head of China's Liaison Office in Washington Huang, a personal letter to Mao Tse-tung, reconfirming the continuity of American policy toward China, and promising that "no policy has higher priority than accelerating" normalization of relations with China.

Sep. 8 President Gerald Ford grants Nixon a "full, free and absolute pardon."
Oct. 25 The new head of the Liaison Office, George Bush, arrives in China for talks with Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping.

Nov. 25 Henry Kissinger arrives in China for talks with Chou En-lai, Deng Xiaoping and Foreign Minister Qiao Guanhua on normalization of U.S.-China relations.


1945 - 1949 |  1950 - 1954 |  1955 - 1959 |  1960 - 1964 |  1965 - 1969 |  1970 - 1974 |  1975 - 1979 




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