The Untold Farce Behind Nixon’s China Visit

President Nixon and Premier Zhou Enlai toast on February 25, 1972.  (Image:  wikimedia /  CC0 1.0)
President Nixon and Premier Zhou Enlai toast on February 25, 1972. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

In 1972, when President Richard Nixon visited China, which was on the verge of economic collapse, people in China were in the late period of the Cultural Revolution, facing severe material shortages and experiencing extreme hardship.

In order to conceal the real situation, Zhou Enlai was in charge of the State Council and staged various scenarios to mislead Nixon.

An article in the recent issue of Trends magazine revealed that many military police, Communist Party members, and activists played ordinary people and shopped in a designated shopping mall, which had everything.

However, instructions from above clearly indicated that everyone could look, but buying was strictly prohibited.

President Nixon shakes hands with Premier Chou En-lai. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

President Nixon shakes hands with Premier Zhou Enlai. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

When Nixon’s motorcade went through Wangfujing Street, people from both sides of the street showered him with a warm welcome. The people at the front were all military police in disguise; after that were Party members and activists. Even the villagers being interviewed were all phony villagers.

Luo Weiguo, the interpreter for Nixon’s China visit, wrote in his memoir that one afternoon when the U.S. reporters wanted to visit Huangpu Park on February 27, the park was cleared first. It was bitter cold and a dozen young couples were arranged to be dating in the park. But the U.S. reporters soon found it questionable and asked: “Are they really dating in the park?”

Afterwards, the reporters went to a supermarket, where organised phony customers were buying poultry and fish. Once the reporters left the supermarket, all purchased goods were returned to the store.

Spectators in front of a large sign Along President Nixon's motorcade route in China. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Spectators in front of a large sign along President Nixon’s motorcade route in China.
(Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

A famous American producer, Lucy Jarvis, took advantage of Nixon’s China trip and made a documentary film, The Forbidden City. The film later won an Emmy, the highest award in American television.

The film was about lives around the Forbidden City, so after three months of repeated selection, Chinese authorities found Liu Zhijun, a Qinghua University student.

Detailed answers were prepared for all possible questions for Liu’s family members. Many local residents were also required to study that. People were not allowed to go home until they had memorised all the answers.

President and Mrs. Nixon visit the Great Wall of China. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

President and Mrs. Nixon visit the Great Wall of China. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

According to the Apple Daily, when Nixon visited China in early 1972, there were 360 guards of honor to welcome him, which was 120-155 more people than other heads of states would receive.

For Zhou Enlai’s state dinner in the Great Hall, a team of fishermen was ordered to obtain 2,000 pounds of abalone in the deep sea where the temperature was -5° F. Three of the fishermen froze to death while on that mission, and one of them was only 17 years old.

Later, a reporter from The New York Times revealed the tragic deaths of the three fishermen, and President Nixon regretted this ever happened.

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