US president Richard Nixon and Chinese leader Mao Zedong shake hands in Beijing. Photo: AP

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50 years since Nixon visited Chinai

In February 1972, US president Richard Nixon defied conventional foreign policy wisdom when he arrived in Beijing for meetings with Chinese leader Mao Zedong. In recognition of the trip’s historical significance, the South China Morning Post is running a multimedia series exploring interesting points of the past 50 years in US-China relations.

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The self-ruled island built itself into a powerhouse, first with cheaply manufactured products then as an indispensable player in the tech industry.

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Chiang Ching-kuo inherited his father’s ambitions to retake mainland China but Washington’s embrace of Beijing shattered those hopes.

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Lingling and Xingxing arrived in Washington in 1972 as a symbolic offering of friendship between the US and China, sparking panda fever around the world. As history has shown, the era of comity did not last, although the bears’ popularity has.

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Joint statement released on last day of US president’s visit in 1972 is arguably the most important breakthrough agreement in the history of US-China relations.

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‘We opened up for geopolitical, economic, security reasons, and we hoped – as an added plus – this would loosen up the Chinese political system. But engagement was not preconditioned on that.’

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In February 1972, US president Richard Nixon defied conventional foreign policy wisdom when he arrived in Beijing for meetings with Chinese leader Mao Zedong. In recognition of the trip’s historical significance, the South China Morning Post is running a multimedia series exploring interesting points of the past 50 years in US-China relations.

A hinge point in modern history, the US president’s trip to China outflanked the USSR and helped bring Beijing out of international isolation.

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