Feb. 21, 1972: In what was arguably the most dramatic trip ever taken by a president of the United States, Richard Nixon arrived in China for an eight-day visit. The announcement that Nixon, a lifelong hardline anti-communist, would visit China stunned the world. The United States and China had been foes for a quarter-century, but Nixon recognized the need for better ties — which would also help the U.S. in its Cold War standoff with the Soviet Union. During his week-long visit, Nixon met with Mao and Zhou En-Lai; it is seen today as the beginning of China's drive to modernize and enter the modern world. China's economy is now the world's second largest, trailing only that of the U.S itself. Nixon called it "the week that changed the world," and the phrase "Nixon going to China" has since become a metaphor for an unexpected or uncharacteristic action by a politician.
Feb. 21, 1975: John Mitchell, the former attorney general during the Nixon administration, was sentenced to two and a half to eight years in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. Former Nixon White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and presidential counsel John Ehrlichman were also sentenced to two and a half to eight years.
Quote of the day
"I never took a dollar. I had somebody else do it." –Richard Nixon (as recalled by Alexander Haig)
More from West Wing Reports...
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
- Why Israel can no longer let the Palestinian Authority be responsible for security in the West Bank
- How U.S. special forces are preparing for the worst-case scenario in North Korea
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Why charity can't solve society's deepest problems
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How social conservatives became a minority in need of protection
- Grammar quiz: Do you know the passive voice?
- I hate Ayn Rand — but here's why my fellow conservatives love her
Subscribe to the Week