Chronology of Visit to the People's Republic of China. February 17-28, 1972
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following chronology of events was prepared from White House announcements and outlines public activities of the President and Mrs. Nixon during their visit to the People's Republic of China.
Thursday, February 17
After a departure ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, the President and Mrs. Nixon went by helicopter to Andrews Air Force Base for the flight to Hawaii, en route to the People's Republic of China.
Arriving at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station, Oahu, Hawaii, the President and Mrs. Nixon motored to the residence of the Commanding General, First Marine Brigade, where they remained until Saturday afternoon, February 19, reading and preparing for the China visit.
Saturday, February 19-Sunday, February 20
The President and Mrs. Nixon boarded the Spirit of '76 at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station for the 8-hour flight to Guam. Crossing the International Date Line en route, they arrived at Guam International Airport shortly after 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 20, Guam time. They spent the night at Nimitz Hill, the residence of the Commander, Naval Forces, Marianas.
Monday, February 21
At 7 a.m., Guam time, the President and Mrs. Nixon left Guam International Airport for Shanghai, their first stop in the People's Republic of China. They arrived, after a 4-hour flight, at Hung Chiao (Rainbow Bridge) Airport, Shanghai, at 9 a.m., China time, where they were greeted by officials of the People's Republic, headed by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ch'iao Kuan-hua. After refreshments and a tour of the terminal, the Presidential party again boarded the Spirit of '76, accompanied by Vice Minister Ch'iao, Chang Wenchin and Wang Hai-jung of the Foreign Ministry, a Chinese navigator, radio operator, and three interpreters, for the final leg of the flight to Peking.
At about 11:30 a.m., China time, the party arrived at Capital Airport near Peking. Premier Chou En-lai greeted the President and members of his party, stood with the President for the playing of the national anthems of the two countries, and accompanied the President in a review of the troops.
The Premier then accompanied the President in a motorcade to Peking, to Taft Yu Tai (Angling Terrace), the guest house where the President and Mrs. Nixon would stay during their visit.
In the afternoon, the President met for an hour with Chairman Mao Tse-tung at the Chairman's residence and for an hour with Premier Chou and other officials in plenary session at the Great Hall of the People.
The President and Mrs. Nixon were guests of Premier Chou at a banquet in the Great Hall of the People in the evening.
Tuesday, February 22
After a morning of staff meetings and attention to other White House business, the President met for 4 hours with Premier Chou in the Great Hall.
The First Lady visited the e kitchen of the Peking Hotel, where she toured food preparation and cooking areas, and talked with cooks and helpers. She was accompanied by Mme. Lin Chia-mei, wife of Vice Premier Li Hsiennien, Mme. Chi P'eng-fei, wife of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Sun Hsin-mang, head of the revolutionary committee of the hotel. During the tour, Mrs. Nixon told reporters of plans for the People's Republic to present to the people of America two giant pandas, in appreciation for the two musk oxen which were to be given to the Peking Zoo on behalf of the people of the United States.
In the afternoon, Mrs. Nixon visited the Summer Palace, an imperial residence and garden during the Chins Dynasty. She toured rooms used by the Empress Tzu Hsi and walked in the gardens, viewing the lake Kun Ming and Longevity Hill. She then went to the Peking Zoo and saw the zoo's pandas.
In the evening, the President and First Lady attended a cultural program with Premier and Madame Chou and Chiang Ch'ing, the wife of Chairman Mao Tse-tung. They saw a performance of the ballet, "The Red Detachment of Women."
Wednesday, February 23
The President and Premier Chou met in the afternoon for 4 hours of discussions at the guest house where the President was staying.
The First Lady visited the Evergreen People's Commune on the west edge of Peking. In her hour-long tour, she visited the commune's clinic, where she observed acupuncture treatments, second- and third-grade classrooms, a commune home, agricultural areas and greenhouses, and a dry goods store.
In the afternoon, Mrs. Nixon visited the Peking Glassware Factory and talked with workers making glass flowers and animals.
In the evening, with Premier Chou En-lai, the President and Mrs. Nixon attended a public exhibition of gymnastics, badminton, and table tennis at the Capital Gymnasium.
Thursday, February 24
The President and Mrs. Nixon, accompanied by Vice Premier Li Hsien-nien, drove 35 miles north of Peking to visit the Ba Da Ling portion of the Great Wall of China, and then the tombs of the emperors of the Ming Dynasty.
In the afternoon, the 'President and Premier Chou met again for 3 hours of discussion. The President and Mrs. Nixon later attended an informal private dinner hosted by Premier Chou in the Great Hall.
Friday, February 25
In the morning, the President and Mrs. Nixon went to the Forbidden City, the site in Peking of the residence of the emperors for some 800 years prior to the early 20th century. They were accompanied by Marshal Yeh Chien-ying, Vice Chairman of the Military Affairs Commission.
In the afternoon, the President met again with Premier Chou for an hour.
The First Lady toured the Peking Children's Hospital.
Marking the final evening of their Peking stay, the President and the First Lady hosted a banquet honoring Premier Chou and other Chinese officials in the Great Hall.
Saturday, February 26
At the Peking Airport, the President and Premier Chou and other officials of the United States and the People's Republic met in plenary session for approximately one hour.
The President and the First Lady, with Premier Chou, then boarded the Premier's plane for the flight to Hangchow, People's Republic of China. From Hangchow Airport, they drove to a guest house on West Lake, a park and recreational site, where they were to spend the night.
In the afternoon, they joined in a walking tour of Flower Fort Park and a boat tour of West Lake, stopping briefly at the Island of Three Towers Reflecting the Moon. Mrs. Nixon also visited the Temple of the Great Buddha.
They were entertained in the evening at a banquet given by the Chekiang Province Revolutionary Committee.
Sunday, February 27
With Premier Chou, the President and the First Lady flew in the Premier's plane from Hangchow Airport to Shanghai. From Shanghai Airport, they motorcaded to the Shanghai Industrial Exhibition, where, with 'Premier Chou, they toured exhibits of heavy machinery and electronic equipment, handicrafts, surgical techniques, textiles, light industry, musical instruments, toys, and arts and crafts.
Mrs. Nixon also visited the Shanghai Municipal Children's Palace, where she watched demonstrations of dancing, gymnastics, a puppet show, theatrics, swordplay, and art by students at the center. Her guide was Chang Hong, a fifth-grade student.
In the late afternoon, the joint communiqué ¡greed upon by the President and Premier Chou was released.
In the evening, the President and First Lady were guests at a banquet in the Shanghai Exhibition Hall hosted by the Shanghai Municipal Revolutionary Committee. Premier Chou and Committee Chairman Chang Ch'un-ch'iao then accompanied the President and Mrs. Nixon to a cultural program of acrobatics in the Exhibition Hall.
Monday, February 28
Premier Chou visited with the President for an hour at the Ching Kiang guest house and then accompanied the Presidential party to the airport for official farewells before the takeoff for the return flight at 10 a.m.
Crossing the International Date Line, the Spirit of '76 arrived at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage, Alaska, at midnight on Sunday, February 27, Alaska time. The President and the First Lady spent the night at the residence of the Commanding General and left for the final leg of the flight to Washington at 9:40 a.m. on Monday, February 28, Alaska time.
The official party arrived at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington at 9:15 p.m., e.s.t.
APP Note 1: This document is undated but the American Presidency Project used the first date of the chronology as the date for inclusion in our database.
APP Note 2: This is Public Papers of the Presidents, Richard Nixon: 1972, document #63A
Richard Nixon, Chronology of Visit to the People's Republic of China. February 17-28, 1972 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/255085