It has been almost 40 years after America former President Nixon’s first visit to China on February 21, 1972, which lead the relation between the United States and the People’s Republic of China to an important state. Since the 40th anniversary is coming, I would like to share some collected interesting stories behind this 1972 icebreaking meeting with you all.
Learning Chinese Culture for Preparation
According to Nixon’s daughter Julie’s recall, in order to make a good preparation for the Sino-American historical event, Nixon and his wife Thelma Catherine Ryan had practiced using chopsticks for a long time in the White House before the formal 1972 visit to China. Meanwhile, the U.S. President Nixon also learnt some common greeting words in Chinese, such as “你好（nǐ hǎo，hello）谢谢(xiè xie, thanks)！”
Everything comes to him who waits.On the grand state banquet in the Great Hall of People, most of American officials could not get used to using chopsticks except Nixon. When he enjoyed the delicious Chinese cuisine with those two thin sticks in a deliberate unhurried manner, all the camera lens were attracted to record this eye-catching scene.
Choosing the perfect timing of arrival in Beijing
America President Nixon’s Air Force One flew from Washington. DC on February 17th and stopped in Hawaii for a few days then arrived in Beijing at 11:30 a.m. on February 21st. Why choose this particular timing? Because Beijing time 11:30 a.m. was America Eastern Time 10:30 p.m. and Western Coast Time 7:30 p.m., it’s the prime time for U.S. local TV broadcasts. Mr. Nixon wanted this important moment be witnessed by all the America citizens and Chinese people.
Being interested in burning Moutai
Moutai(茅台máo tái ) produced in Guizhou(Kweichow) is considered as the national alcoholic drink in China. If you have ever had a business dinner with Chinese people, you might still remember the familiar atmosphere and exclaim how enthusiastic when they touch the alcoholic drink with their tongues. And please do understand it’s a polite custom that Chinese people like to urge somebody to drink at a banquet and make toasts(干杯gān bēi) now and then.
On the night of Nixon’s arrival, a warm welcome-banquet was held in the Great Hall of the People which showed the highest reception standard in China. Apparently, Moutai was a must in this significant banquet.Nixon, his wife and Henry Kissinger accompanied by Premier Zhou were sitting at the head table which can accommodate 20 people.
Wine mellows with age, so does Moutai. Once the cap of the bottle was screwed, sweet perfumes were diffused all around. Then Premier Zhou raised a goblet of Moutai over 30 years and introduced”this is the well-known Moutai with more than 50% alcohol. “Yes, I have heard your joke before., said a person who drank a lot and wanted to have a cigarette after dinner, but when he lit the fire, he got on a fire and exploded before the cigarette.” Nixon’s speech has all the attendees rolling in the aisles.
Premier Zhou laughed and fetched a match to kindle his goblet filled with Moutai. All of a sudden, a tongue of blue flame sparkled. “Mr. Nixon, see, it is burning .”The hall was echoing with a lot of laughter.