Tuesday, May 5, 2015

President Nixon's Visit to the Peoples Republic of China (1971/1972)

President Nixon Announces his Visit to China

NBC Studios in Burbank CA

Type Of Activity
 Televised News Conference
 Burbank CA
Date of Activity
 July 15 1971
 34°09'14.7"N 118°20'00.5"W

15 Jul 1971 President Nixon his announces upcoming trip to China

The President and first Lady arrived in San Clemente on July 3rd 1971 for an extended stay at the Western White House. At the time we were unaware of what would come in two weeks. The President’s trip was pretty routine without many side trips and seemed more like a working vacation as the Senior Staff was very busy. On July 13th Henry Kissinger arrived and participated in a series of meetings with the President and the Senior Staff. 

The next day the CCT was told to get ready to leave for the NBC Studios in Burbank CA. for a live national TV and Radio broadcast that the President would conduct! As we departed no one on the team knew the magnitude of the pending press release.

I had been to NBC Studios on a couple of occasions prior to this visit so I had a basic knowledge of the physical layout! During the 1968 Presidential election I was in CA supporting Candidate Nixon.  He was planning to do a spot on Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh In” and I needed to make sure that the Secret Service had radio coverage for security of the then Candidate Richard Nixon. I knew that the warehouse had easy access to the roof so we set up our base stations in a small room in the warehouse.  We surveyed the studio where the President would Speak and started to prepare for the broadcast!

The President and Henry Kissinger arrive at NBC Studios with HR Halderman and Ron Ziegler
The President and Dr. Henry Kissinger with the Senior Staff departed San Clemente aboard Marine One and arrived at NBC Studios at 6pm.

At 7:30 pm during a live television and radio broadcast, President Richard Nixon stunned the nation by announcing that he will visit communist China the following year. The statement marked a dramatic turning point in U.S.-Chinese relations.

“It was such a shock,” longtime CBS anchor Dan Rather said, “that President Nixon, the quintessential Cold Warrior, was changing colors, as it were.”

The shock of the announcement unleashed a barrage of opinions, both in favor of the trip and against it, with most somewhere in between. The presidential visit the following February, however, would produce one of the most lasting shifts in the international order in generations — one that reverberates ever stronger to this day.

The President Announces his Planned Trip to China
231 - Remarks to the Nation Announcing Acceptance of an Invitation To Visit the People's Republic of China.
July 15, 1971

Good evening:

I have requested this television time tonight to announce a major development in our efforts to build a lasting peace in the world.

As I have pointed out on a number of occasions over the past 3 years, there can be no stable and enduring peace without the participation of the People's Republic of China and its 750 million people. That is why I have undertaken initiatives in several areas to open the door for more normal relations between our two countries.

In pursuance of that goal, I sent Dr. Kissinger, my Assistant for National Security Affairs, to Peking during his recent world tour for the purpose of having talks with Premier Chou En-lai.
The announcement I shall now read is being issued simultaneously in Peking and in the United States:

Premier Chou En-lai and Dr. Henry Kissinger, President Nixon's Assistant for National Security Affairs, held talks in Peking from July 9 to 11, 1971. Knowing of President Nixon's expressed desire to visit the People's Republic of China, Premier Chou Enlai, on behalf of the Government of the People's Republic of China, has extended an invitation to President Nixon to visit China at an appropriate date before May 1972.

President Nixon has accepted the invitation with pleasure.

The meeting between the leaders of China and the United States is to seek the normalization of relations between the two countries and also to exchange views on questions of concern to the two sides.

In anticipation of the inevitable speculation which will follow this announcement, I want to put our policy in the clearest possible context.

Our action in seeking a new relationship with the People's Republic of China will not be at the expense of our old friends. It is not directed against any other nation. We seek friendly relations with all nations. Any nation can be our friend without being any other nation's enemy.

I have taken this action because of my profound conviction that all nations will gain from a reduction of tensions and a better relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China.

It is in this spirit that I will undertake what I deeply hope will become a journey for peace, peace not just for our generation but for future generations on this earth we share together.

Thank you and good night.

Note: The President's remarks. were broadcast live on radio and television at 7:31 p.m. from the NBC studios, Burbank, Calif.

Citation: Richard Nixon: "Remarks to the Nation Announcing Acceptance of an Invitation To Visit the People's Republic of China." July 15, 1971. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=3079.

The President’s handwritten notes from that day, before delivering his announcement:
Nixon undertook his historic visit to China the following year, thus beginning a long and slow process of normalization of relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United States. The immediate diplomatic and political rewards of Nixon’s initiative were not readily apparent. The war in Vietnam dragged on until January 1973, with the Chinese apparently having little, if any, impact on North Vietnam’s negotiating stance. Nixon’s trip to China did inspire a good deal of anxiety in Moscow, but whether the policy of detente was helped or not is debatable. The 1972 trip was certainly front-page news in the United States, and may have been one small factor in Nixon’s resounding victory in the presidential election of that year.

 NBC Studios site of President Nixon’s announcement that he was going to visit China in March of 1972
When the broadcast was finished the Presidential party departed the NBC studios for dinner at Perino’s Restaurant in Los Angles. 

We were notified at 10pm that the President had departed Los Angles and was headed back to San Clemente. At which time we began to tear down our equipment and load it on trucks to return to our shop at El Toro MCAS.

This event was only the beginning of the involvement that the San Clemente CCT would be associated with the President’s trip to China.  In Oct 1971 we were dispatched to Hilo HI to support Henry Kissinger when he flew to Beijing to finalize the President’s visit and the team was sent to Guam where we provided communications support while the President stopped in route and return from his visit as well as being back-up for the people working on mainland during the entire visit!

The Kissinger Advance Trip To China Hilo Hawaii

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Hilo, HI

Type of Activity
Communications Support Trip  
Hilo HI
Date of Activity
13 Oct 1971
 19°42′20″N 155°5′9″W

13 October 1971 to Hilo Hi with Henry Kissinger

In July 1971, President Nixon's National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, secretly visited Beijing, and laid the groundwork for Nixon's visit to China. The world discovered that Kissinger had just returned from a secret mission to China. Nixon then announced that he, the president of the United States, had accepted an invitation to visit China.

On October 13, 1971 the San Clemente CCT was sent to Hilo, Hi to support Dr. Kissinger during his final trip to China prior to the President’s visit in February, 1972. The CCT set up a single position mini switchboard, and a secure Comm. Center in the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, where Dr. Kissinger would lay over for a couple of days before continuing on to Peking. There were several Autovon circuits and some TTY circuits terminated on the switchboard for use by the small staff that was traveling with Dr. Kissinger.

We departed Hilo on October 18, 1971 after Dr. Kissinger returned from his meeting in China.

When we left Hilo it was on an old Air Force trainer and we flew directly to Hickam AFB in Honolulu. Since we could not arrange for Air Force transportation, we had to arrange for our return on a commercial airliner. After we booked ourselves on a return flight the next day we checked into the Ala Moana Hotel for the night. 

Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu HI
There were several things that we had to do before boarding the Aircraft. Since we were carrying classified material and Comm. Center equipment we were required to notify them that we were armed and order a Sky Marshal for the flight. Then we had to supervise the loading of the equipment into the cargo hold to insure that it was secured and nothing else was loaded.

Upon our arrival in Los Angeles we were the first off to watch our equipment unloaded from the plane.

On October, 25 1971, just five days after Dr. Kissinger returned from this trip to China the UN General Assembly expelled Taiwan and admitted the Peoples Republic of China.

 Peking China    
 President and Mrs. Nixon arriving in China
Coordinates:                                   39°54′50″N 116°23′30″E
 473 BC
 43.5 m (143 ft.)
Population    (2009) 

21 to 28 February 1972 President Nixon Visits China

U.S. President Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to the People's Republic of China was an important step in formally normalizing relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China. It marked the first time a U.S. president had visited the PRC, who at that time considered the U.S. one of its staunchest foes. The visit has become a metaphor for an unexpected or uncharacteristic action by a politician.

Improved relations with the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China are often cited as the most successful diplomatic achievements of Nixon’s presidency. After World War II, Americans saw relations between the United States and the Soviet Union deteriorating, Russians consolidating communist puppet states over much of Eastern Europe, and China teetering on the edge of communism. Many Americans felt concern that communists might cause the downfall of schools or labor unions. One of the main reasons Richard Nixon became the 1952 Vice-president candidate on the Eisenhower ticket was his strong anti-communism stance. Despite this, in 1972 Nixon became the first U.S. president to visit China while in office.

President Nixon and his advisers on AF1 in route to China

From February 21-28, 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon traveled to Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Almost as soon as the American president arrived in the Chinese capital he was summoned for a meeting with Chairman Mao who, unknown to the Americans, had been ill nine days earlier but was at that point feeling strong enough to meet Nixon. Secretary of State William P. Rogers was excluded from this meeting and the only other American present was National Security Council staffer (and later U.S. Ambassador to China) Winston Lord. To avoid embarrassing Rogers, Lord was cropped out of all the official photographs of the meeting. Although Nixon was in China for a week, this would be his sole meeting with the top Chinese leader.

 Chairman Mao and President Nixon
The Nixon’s arrival in China
Nixon held many meetings with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai during the trip, which included visits to the Great WallHangzhou, and Shanghai.

The Nixon’s tour the Great Wall of China
The Nixon’s tour the Great Wall of China

At the conclusion of his trip, the United States and the PRC Governments issued the Shanghai Communiqué, a statement of their foreign policy views and a document that would remain the basis of Sino-American bilateral relations for many years. Kissinger stated that the U.S. also intended to pull all its forces out of the island of Taiwan. In the communique, both nations pledged to work toward the full normalization of diplomatic relations.

 Letter of Appreciation
Certificate of Membership
President's Travel Itinerary

Agana Guam
February 20-21, 1972
Rest stop in route to China
Shanghai, Peking, Hangchow
 People's Republic of 
February 21-28, 1972
State visit; met with Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou En-Lai.

WHCA’s Role in the President’s Trip to China 

On February 10, 1972 the San Clemente CCT departed for Guam which is an island in the western Pacific Ocean and is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States. Agana is the island's capital. Our primary mission was to set up a support base that would be able to quickly respond to any personnel or equipment emergencies that might occur during this trip. 

Agana the Capital of Guam
B-52 departing Andersen AFB to Vietnam
We arrived at Andersen AFB early in the morning on February 11, 1972, as soon as we unloaded all of our equipment and got settled in the hotel. We met with some government and military personnel to find locations suitable to install our communication equipment. Andersen was the perfect location because of its tight base security. 

From early 1972, Andersen AFB was the site of one of the most massive buildups of air power in history. The influx of bombers, crews, and support personnel pushed Andersen's military population past 15,000. Over 150 B-52's lined all available space on the flight line. 

We utilized three locations on Andersen to set up the mini switchboards, the crypto equipment in the Comm. Center, and the HF SSB and FM radios. Since the arrival would take place at Andersen and the President and Mrs. Nixon would stay in a nearby private residence. We decided to install Baker/Charlie and Sierra base stations in the same building as the Switchboard and Comm. Center. This would make it an easier installation for the keying lines to the radio consoles and paging system that terminated at the switchboard... 

We installed a URT-23 HF Transmitter with two R-1051 receivers to work with the WHCA people on mainland China. We were given a schedule of specific dates and times that we were allowed to test on our assigned frequencies. Once we completed testing we went to 24hr coverage on all communications activities 

R-1051 SSB Receiver 
URT-23 1KW SSB Transmitter
The WHCA Mini-switchboard
The President arrived on February 20, 1972 and spent the evening on Guam before continuing his flight to mainland China. 

The President, Mrs. Nixon, Dr. Kissinger and a few Staff members arrived in Peking on February 21, 1972 to begin one of the most historic events in history. The President would spend seven days in China, during that period of time the WHCA installations on Guam would be the focal point for most of the communications to and from the President and his Staff. 

The Presidents left China on February 28, 1972 and we immediately started to remove our equipment and got ready to load it on a C-141 returning from China with some WHCA personnel. The plane was loaded and we were ready to depart Guam for a couple of days of rest in Honolulu, Hi.

Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu HI

We were all ready for some R&R after spending close to a month preparing and executing this very historical event in history. We spent two days at the Ala Moana hotel on Waikiki in Honolulu.

On March 2, 1972 the San Clemente CCT returned to their home base at El Toro MCAS form Guam and the China trip was over.