FORA Culture

Season 2007 Episode 0226

When Nixon Met Mao

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When Nixon Met Mao
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Margaret MacMillan speaks at the World Affairs Council of Northern California.In February 1972, Richard Nixon, the first American president ever to visit China, and Mao Tse-tung, the enigmatic Communist dictator, met for an hour in Beijing. Their meeting changed the course of history and ultimately laid the groundwork for the complex relationship between China and the United States that we see today.That monumental meeting - during what Nixon called "the week that changed the world" - could have been brought about only by powerful leaders: Nixon himself, a great strategist and a flawed human being, and Mao, willful and ruthless. Nixon thought China could help him get out of Vietnam. Mao needed American technology and expertise to repair the damage of the Cultural Revolution. Both men wanted an ally against an aggressive Soviet Union. Did they get what they wanted? And what has been the impact of the visit on the United States ever since? Overshadowing the meeting lay the complex history of two countries, two great and equally confident civilizations: China, ancient and contemptuous yet fearful of barbarians beyond the Middle Kingdom, and the United States, forward-looking and confident, seeing itself as the beacon for the world.In her new book, The Week That Changed the World, Margaret MacMillan, author of bestseller Paris 1919, weaves together an understanding of Chinese and American history and the momentous events of an extraordinary time to shed new light on a key relationship for the world of the twenty-first century.moreless
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