U.S. presidential visits to China are now commonplace. But that’s actually a recent change. In the 20th century, there were just five U.S. presidential visits to China. Beginning in the 1970s, each of the presidents visited once. The sole exception was Jimmy Carter.
Things changed in the 21st century. Every U.S. president in the new millennium has gone to China. Trump’s visit marks the eighth. CGTN’s Jim Spellman has a look back.
It all began in February of 1972, when Richard Nixon became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Peoples’ Republic of China.
He was greeted by Chairman Mao Zedong and visited not just Beijing but also Hangzhou and Shanghai. There, both sides signed the first of three communiques that still provide the framework for relations between the two countries.
In 1975, President Gerald Ford made a 5-day trip to China, meeting with Mao as well as Deng Xiaoping. Ford reaffirmed U.S. commitment to the Shanghai Communique.
President Jimmy Carter did not visit China. But, in 1979, he signed the second communique formally establishing diplomatic relations with China. Carter later called it one of the most correct decisions he’d made as president.
The third communique was signed by President Ronald Reagan, who later traveled to China in 1984 and visited the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, the Great Wall, and Shanghai.
President George H.W. Bush visited in 1989—visiting one month after his inauguration. Bush reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the One China policy.
President Bill Clinton visited five Chinese cities in 1998 and met then-President Jiang Zemin, making a speech at Peking University.
President George W. Bush visited China 4 times-more than any other U.S. president. In 2008, he attended the opening of Summer Olympics in Beijing.
President Barack Obama visited 3 times, including the 2014 APEC meeting in Beijing.
It was at this meeting that the U.S. and China announced an ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions paving the way for the Paris Climate Accord.
And, of course, Donald Trump marked one year since his election as President of the United States with a state visit to Beijing.
Much has changed in the world since Richard Nixon’s visit to China more than 45 years ago, but the relationship between these two countries remains vital—not just to the U.S. and China, but to the entire world.