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President Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong

February 29, 1972
Source: National Archives

President Richard Nixon, left, shakes hands with China's Communist Party Leader Mao Zedong in February 1972. A year earlier, Chairman Mao had invited an American table tennis team to China; this allowed for secret negotiations between National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Chinese officials. The result was Nixon's 1972 visit and, years later under President Jimmy Carter, official diplomatic recognition of China.

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