In a surprise announcement, President Richard Nixon says that he will visit Beijing, China, before May 1972. The news, issued simultaneously in Beijing and the United States, stunned the world. Nixon reported that he was visiting in order “to seek normalization of relations between the two countries and to exchange views on questions of concern to both sides.” Privately, Nixon hoped that achieving a rapprochement with China, North Vietnam’s major benefactor, would convince Hanoi to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the Vietnam War. The announcement was preceded by an April 6 invitation for the U.S. Table Tennis team to visit China, and by Nixon’s end to the 20-year U.S. trade embargo against China. On July 22, the North Vietnamese announced that they viewed Nixon’s visit to China as a divisive attempt by the United States to drive a wedge between Hanoi and Beijing.
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