The Shanghai “Joint Communiqué” (February 27, 1972)

In February 1972, President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China captured the world’s attention. The trip was filled with photo-ops, including President Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong engaging in cordial conversation. The most important diplomatic outcome of the visit was the issuance of the “Joint Communiqué” on Sino-American relations. – M.B. Masur, St. Anselm College


Margaret MacMillan, Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World (New York, 2007).

Robert D. Schulzinger, Henry Kissinger: Doctor of Diplomacy (New York, 1989).

Jonathan D. Spence, The Search for Modern China (New York, 1990).

Discussion Questions

What does the structure of the document—parallel statements on a number of key issues—suggest about the Sino-American relationship?

Think about the main “sticking points” between the two countries—Vietnam, Korea, and especially Taiwan.

What does each side say about these disputes?

Does either side seem willing to compromise?

How do they try to resolve these areas of dispute?

On what issues do the two sides disagree?

Does the document seem like a step forward in Sino-American relations?

Why or why not?