February 27, 1972 – The Shanghai Communique (formally The Joint Communiqué of the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China) is signed at the Jinjiang Hotel during President Nixon’s ground-breaking tour of China.
Nixon, despite his domestic challenges at home, was a champion on the international stage, in a large part due to his creative and complex Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. The document states that no nation (including the Soviet Union) should attempt to dominate Asia, that it was in the best interest of all nations for China and the United State to ‘normalize’ relations, and that there was only one state known as China (the One China Policy) though that was never clearly defined. By signifying that the U.S. and China should have diplomatic relations, the document unbalanced the Soviet Union who now had to contend with a whole new dynamic and destabilized North Vietnam which was receiving much of its aid from the People’s Republic.
The Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, was still 7 years away, when the Carter administration would withdraw support for the Republic of China (Taiwan) and formalize relations with the People Republic of China. Forty years later, the Taiwan Issue is still unresolved, the Soviet Union is dissolved, and rarely a player in Asia, and China and the United States have a very complex relationship. But the Shanghai Communique was a giant step forward for relations between the U.S. and China after more than 20 years of separation and opened doors that just a few years earlier seemed closed forever.