15     Overtures Between East and West


Primary Resources


Document 15.1


Joint Communiqué of the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China, February 28, 1972  (From the American Institute in Taiwan)


Document 15.2


Excerpts from the 1979 “U.S.-PRC Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations” and the Taiwan Relations Act of 197



Supplementary Resources


Item 15.A

Chart for analysis of the Joint Communiqué (Activity 4)

Item 15.B

Map of Asia

Item 15.C

A Brief History of Taiwan




Activity Websites

Activity 1

"Nixon's China Game"

“Nixon’s China Game,” an American Experience special website, provides excellent background information. Includes an interview with Henry Kissinger, timelines, and teacher resources.


Activity 2 Ping-Pong Diplomacy

An Overview from PBS

An Overview from China.org.cn

An introduction to ping pong diplomacy.


Activity 3 President's Nixon's Visit to China

Photographs of President Nixon's Visit to China

Photographs by Oliver F. Atkins, Nixon's personal photographer.


A Closer Look

"Guidelines for Myself" by Zhou Enlai



Suggested Resources




Chen Jian. Mao’s China and the Cold War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.


Clayton, Cathryn H. Sovereignty at the Edge: Macau and the Question of Chineseness. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.


Cohen, Warren I. America’s Response to China: A History of Sino-American Relations. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.


Gao Wenqian. Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary. New York: PublicAffairs, 2007.


Kissinger, Henry. On China. New York: Penguin, 2011.

Nixon’s former Secretary of State examines China’s foreign policy and relationships with Western powers and other East Asian countries in the second half of the twentieth century.


Li Cunxin. Mao’s Last Dancer. New York: Putnam, 2003.

The biography of a man chosen as a young boy to study ballet at the Beijing Dance Academy.


MacMillan, Margaret. Nixon and Mao: The Week that Changed the World. New York: Random House, 2007.

An accessible history of Nixon’s visit to China, including archival documents and photographs that help shed light on the complex events leading up to the Joint Communiqué.


Tsang, Steve. A Modern History of Hong Kong. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2007.




China’s Political System: Special Administrative Regions

An overview of the legal status of Hong Kong and Macao as Special Administrative Regions of China.


McCarthyism, PBS

A brief overview of McCarthyism and the political climate in the United States during the 1950s.


Nixon’s China Game, PBS

An American Experience website with background information, timelines, teacher resources, and an interview with Henry Kissinger.


Nixon’s Trip to China, The National Security Archive, The George Washington University

Declassified documents of Nixon’s visit to China including conversations with Zhou Enlai.


Ping Pong Diplomacy: Nixon’s Trip to China, February 21–28, 1972

An online exhibition that includes photos, documents, and background information about Nixon’s historic 1972 trip. Select Exhibits—Richard Nixon—Ping Pong Diplomacy to open exhibit.


President Nixon in China, February 28, 1972, C-SPAN

Video footage of Nixon’s visit to China recorded by a crew hired by the President to document the trip.


United States-China Accord for Cultural Exchange

The text of the 1984 United States and China agreement to enhance relations and “strengthen cultural cooperation.”


Zhou Enlai Posters

Digitized posters from the collection of the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, and Stefan R. Landsberger.




Mao’s Last Dancer (113 mins; 2010)

A feature film about Li Cunxin, who was chosen as a young boy to study at the Beijing Dance Academy. 



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