Nixon's 1972 Visit to China: Compromise across a 23-Year Ocean of Conflict

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Nixon's 1972 Visit to China: Compromise across a 23-Year Ocean of Conflict

Chi Zeng

Senior Division

Individual Website
On February 21, 1972, President Richard M. Nixon landed at the Shanghai airport to embark on a week-long trip to the People’s Republic of China that would change history forever. The president toured numerous Chinese substantial landmarks including the West Lake of Hangchow, the Ming Tombs, and the Great Wall, building relations with Chinese officials along the way. For my project, I intended to select a topic that not only would fit aptly on a website and fit with the National History Day theme of conflict and compromise, but also a topic that genuinely interested me. Nixon’s legendary visit to China satisfied all of these conditions. The visit not only helped “thaw” the Cold War, but more importantly, formed a stable and win-win relationship between the PRC and the United States.

With this topic in mind, I began my research. First, I collected fundamental information about the visit from my school textbook. I then assessed which information substantiated the NHD theme of conflict and compromise. Next, I obtained details about the visit from primary documents found in the United States National Archives, Internet historical sources, and from a local library, for these sources offered a first-hand account of the visit. One major challenge I faced while researching was keeping the visit in historical perspective, emphasizing the true impact the visit had upon history.

I decided to present my project as a website, not only because I am a fluent web designer, but more importantly, because a website offers profound viewer interaction. I view this project as an invaluable opportunity not only to improve my web design skills, but also to express history through the interactivity that a well-developed website offers. After collecting all the information on note cards, I drew an outline and sketch of my site based upon how much information I needed to present. To emphasize the theme of conflict and compromise, I decided to underscore these items on my home page. I then proceeded to hand-code the pages for my website with “J-Edit,” a powerful text editor. AJAX and DHTML technology allowed me to create interactive content to engage viewers. For efficient site design, I implemented CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to control page layouts.

My topic, Nixon’s visit to China, fits directly with the NHD theme of conflict and compromise. The visit helped to alleviate the twenty-three-year conflict between the two nations prior to the visit. The compromise in Nixon’s visit was actually twofold; it was a compromise for America and a compromise for U.S.-China relations. As the international democratic fountainhead, the United States compromised its staunch reputation as the guardian of democracy by visiting “Red China” in the midst of the Cold War. However, it was also a compromise from an international standpoint. Both countries set aside their differences for the sake of a long-term, win-win Sino-American relationship. The visit paved the way for China’s debut on the world stage as a global power and gave America a potential powerful ally in Southeast Asia.

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