30 Years of U.S. - PRC Diplomatic Relations
High Levels Visits & Speeches
High-level visits have played an important role in the evolution of U.S.-China relations, beginning with the first U.S. Presidential visit in 1972 by President Nixon.
President Nixon: At the conclusion of President Nixon’s February 1972 visit to Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai, the United States and China signed the "Shanghai Communiqué," in which both sides stated their intention to normalize diplomatic relations. This led to the opening of liaison offices in each country; Ambassador David Bruce was named to head the U.S. liaison office in Beijing and General Huang Chen became head of China’s liaison office in Washington. Ambassador Bruce was succeeded by George H.W. Bush. (speeches in China)
President Ford: President Ford visited China in 1975, the first visit by a U.S. President following the opening of liaison offices. President Ford reaffirmed U.S. intentions to normalize relations with Beijing. (speeches in China)
President Carter: On January 1, 1979, the U.S. and China established full diplomatic relations, marking the event with the issuance of a second joint communiqué. Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping visited the United States January 29 – February 4, 1979, the first visit by a Chinese leader since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Vice President Mondale visited China in August 1979, at which time the two countries signed agreements on maritime affairs, civil aviation, and textiles, as well as a bilateral consular convention.
President Reagan: On August 17, 1982, the U.S. and Chinese governments signed a third joint communiqué, in which the U.S. announced its intention to reduce gradually over time the quality and quantity of arms sales to Taiwan and the Chinese promised to strive for a peaceful resolution of outstanding differences with Taiwan. In January 1984, Premier Zhao Ziyang toured Honolulu, Williamsburg, San Francisco, New York, and Washington D.C. and signed agreements with President Reagan on cooperation in science and industrial technology. Three months later, President Reagan reciprocated Zhao’s visit with a six-day trip to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian -- the first by an American president since Ford’s visit in 1975 -- and concluded talks on peaceful nuclear cooperation. In July 1985, President Li Xiannian traveled to Washington, where he and President Reagan signed the nuclear cooperation agreement, initiated a number of new cultural and educational exchanges, and signed a fisheries agreement. Vice President Bush visited China in 1985 and opened the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu. (speeches in China)
President George H.W. Bush: In February 1989, President Bush visited the Chinese capital, where he met with Deng Xiaoping and General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. President Bush reaffirmed our "One China" policy and encouraged a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues. (speeches in China)
President Clinton: The first high-level summit after the Tiananmen massacre of June 1989 was in 1997, when Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited the United States. In connection with that visit, the two sides concluded talks on the implementation of the 1985 agreement on peaceful nuclear cooperation. President Clinton visited China for nine days in June 1998. In addition to his official talks in Beijing, President Clinton participated in a televised exchange with students at Beijing University and a live radio broadcast in Shanghai. (speeches in China)
President George W. Bush: President Bush visited China four times during his presidency. He participated in the October 2001 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Shanghai. The President returned to China in February 2002, honoring a commitment he had made at the time of APEC to visit China as soon as possible once the United States had begun to implement policies to deal with the terrorism of September 11. President Bush visited China for the third time in November 2005. From Aug 8-11, 2008, President Bush made his fourth visit to China. He attended the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games and the dedication ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
President Jiang Zemin visited the United States and met with President Bush in Crawford, Texas in October 2002, on the margins of the APEC summit in Mexico. President Bush hosted Premier Wen Jiabao in Washington in December 2003. President Hu Jintao visited the United States as Vice President of China in the spring of 2002. In September 2005, President Hu Jintao attended the High Level Plenary of the United Nations General Assembly in New York and met with President Bush. In April 2006, President Hu Jintao arrived in Washington for his first official visit to the U.S. as Chinese president. At the invitation of President Bush, President Hu Jintao attended the G-20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy in Washington on November 15, 2008. (speeches in China)
The Three Communiques
- Joint Communiqué of the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America, Shanghai, February 28, 1972 (PDF - 20kb)
- U.S.-PRC Joint Communiqué, August 17, 1982 (PDF - 14kb)
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Chairman Mao Tse-tung, left, and U.S. President Richard Nixon shake hands as they meet in China in Feb 1972. (AP Photo) For more photos, please click here.