Knocking the Door Open

BEIJING, Dec. 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A news report from on mysteries behind Nixon’s 1972 China Visit:


Knocking the Door Open

Tang Wensheng is the interpreter for Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai during Nixon’s visit and the previous visits of Henry Kissinger.

She can tell us stories behind Nixon’s 1972 China visit and help us understand how the past may inform our future.

By 1971, after more than two decades of  isolation and  hostility across the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Table Tennis Team became the first American sports delegation to set foot on Chinese soil since 1949.

Normalization of relations between the two rival nations during the Cold War was gradually realized thanks to ping-pong, an unlikely diplomatic tool.

Before that, the U.S. government had managed to improve relations with China, which would be good for the U.S. to contend against the Soviet Union. For example, Nixon told a journalist of Time that if there was anything he wanted to do before he died, the thing was to visit China.

In August 1970, journalist Edgar Snow came to China. On the early morning of Dec. 18 1970, Mao Zedong invited Edgar Snow to have a conversation.

Tang Wensheng remembered, halfway between the seats and the door, Chairman Mao and Edgar Snow stopped and had a few more words. And the chairman said, no matter the changes, our relationship remains like this. And he said in English, “standing”.

“I was rather taken aback because he meant they had a standing relationship, and they were indeed standing there. But I didn’t know how he knew that the word ‘standing’ not only meant that they were standing there, but that there was a kind of relationship, standing relationship. That really took me aback. I thought that was also a sign he was learning English to converse with more people.”

As journalist Edgar Snow wrote in “A Conversation With Mao Zedong,” published in April 1971, Mao said he welcomed rightists such as Nixon to visit China because the problems between China and the U.S. would “have to be solved with Nixon”.

In July 1971, Kissinger, who served as National Security Advisor under the administration of the then U.S. president, visited China secretly, to pave the way for President Nixon’s visit to China in February 1972.

Tang Wenshegn said, “History will have its ups and downs. But eventually, it always goes forward. We just have to work for the better because that is in the interest of us all.”

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Mysteries behind Nixon’s 1972 China Visit