While in China, President Nixon gave a speech in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
This was the first time a U.S. president had visited the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and China was considered one of America’s greatest enemies.
While in China, Nixon would meet with Zhou Enlai, who was the first Premier of the PRC. Zhou Enlai (along with Deng Xiaoping) played an important role in the future development of the Chinese economy and restructuring Chinese society leading to the China of today.
In fact, Zhou Enlai not only avoided the purges of high-level Chinese Communist Party officials during the Cultural Revolution, but he also attempted to contain the damage caused by the teenage Red Guard and to protect others from them. This made him very popular with the people near the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Zhou Enlai supported peaceful coexistence with the West. He would die eight months before Mao.
It is ironic that one of the main reasons Richard Nixon became the vice-president of President Eisenhower was due to his strong anti-communist stance.
If you listen to Nixon’s speech in Beijing carefully, you will hear how he managed to slip in a veiled criticism of the fact that the media was free to report what they wanted in the US.
Nixon says of his visit to the Great Wall, “As I walked along the Wall, I saw the sacrifices that went into building it. I saw what is showed about the determination of the Chinese people to retain their independence throughout their long history. I thought about the fact that the Wall tells us that China has a great history and that the people who built this wonder of the world also have a great future.”
I wonder if Nixon realized how true his statement was.
The embedded video then shows Nixon and Zhou Enlai in Hangchow, China, which is southwest of Shanghai.
Could it be possible that Nixon’s trip to China provided Deng Xiaoping the support needed to reject revolutionary Maoism and launch China’s capitalist revolution a few years later?
Return to Nixon in China – Part 2
If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.