Ren­o­vated Nixon Li­brary high­lights his China legacy

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By LIA ZHU in Yorba Linda, Cal­i­for­nia li­azhu@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Step­ping through an iconic moon gate por­tal, vis­i­tors to the newly ren­o­vated Nixon Li­brary can re­live the his­toric hand­shake be­tween Richard Nixon and Zhou En­lai dur­ing the pres­i­dent’s 1972 visit to China and ex­plore the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the US and China more than 40 years ago.

The China ex­hibit — called The Week that Changed the World — is one of the more prom­i­nent ex­hibits at the Richard Nixon Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and Mu­seum which opened on Friday in Yorba Linda, Cal­i­for­nia, af­ter a ma­jor over­haul.

Nixon was the first US pres­i­dent to visit China, where he is­sued the Shanghai Com­mu­niqué, an­nounc­ing a de­sire for open, nor­mal­ized re­la­tions. The visit ended 25 years of no com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the two sides.

For­mer Sec­re­tary of State Henry Kissinger, 93, who at­tended the open­ing cer­e­mony on Friday, said Nixon’s trip to China was “one of the great for­ma­tive events of Amer­i­can foreign pol­icy”.

On prom­i­nent dis­play at the li­brary are life-sized, bronze-plated stat­ues of Nixon and Zhou ex­tend­ing hands to each other against the back­drop of a nearly 15-foot­tall im­age of Air Force One touched down in Bei­jing on Feb 21, 1972.

Christo­pher Cox, grand­son of Pres­i­dent Nixon, said the stat­ues were his fa­vorite ex­hibit at the li­brary.

“This mo­ment is so sig­nifi he said, “two coun­tries com­ing to­gether across decades of lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. This sym­bol­ized a new era — not just Sino-US re­la­tions but what that means for world peace.”

“That spirit of 1972 is some­thing so im­por­tant for us to carry for­ward as we con­sider the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the US and China in the 21st cen­tury,” he added.

The ex­hibit also fea­tures texts, im­ages and ar­ti­facts, such as Pres­i­dent’s Nixon’s notes on his fa­mous yel­low pads dur­ing his prepa­ra­tion for his trip to China, and a spe­cial gift for the pres­i­dent — sets of Ping Pong pad­dles and balls with “A Gen­er­a­tion of Peace” printed on them.

A touch screen dis­play­ing the “toast for peace”, which Pres­i­dent Nixon drafted on Air Force One en route to China for the ban­quet hosted by Zhou En­lai, al­lows vis­i­tors to see the orig­i­nal check­list of “what they want”, “what we want” and “what we both want”.

“I al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated many things that he (Nixon) was able to do, and open­ing up the US to China was amaz­ing,” said Hen­ri­etta Kopecky, a visi­tor to the li­brary.

“It’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to re­mem­ber what hap­pened in the past and how we are able to come to­gether and be a global com­mu­nity,” said Kopecky. “I think peo­ple for­get and take it for granted — ‘Oh, well, that was long ago’. But it’s not, it af­fects us to­day.”

She said the ex­hibit brought what she had stud­ied into re­al­ity and into a con­text that she could see, ex­pe­ri­ence and in­ter­act with.

I al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated many things that he (Nixon) was able to do, and open­ing up the US to China was amaz­ing.” Hen­ri­etta Kopecky, a visi­tor to the li­brary

With a price tag of $15 mil­lion, the ren­o­vated Nixon li­brary aims to al­low vis­i­tors to dis­cover the full im­pact of Pres­i­dent Nixon’s many ac­com­plish­ments through nearly 70 new ex­hibits, 10 multi-me­dia ex­pe­ri­ences, 11 orig­i­nal films and more than 600 pho­to­graphs.

Other pop­u­lar ex­hibits in­clude ex­act repli­cas of the Oval Of­fice and the Lin­coln Sit­ting Room, his fa­vorite room in the White House, “the Viet­nam War”, “Tough Choices”, an in­ter­ac­tive sta­tion where vis­i­tors can play the role of an un­named ad­vi­sor to Pres­i­dent Nixon, and the Water­gate ex­hibit re­mains, where vis­i­tors can ex­plore the per­son­al­i­ties, ac­tions and in­ten­tions at the heart of the scan­dal.

But open­ing to China was the thing Richard Nixon will mostly be re­mem­bered for, apart from his res­ig­na­tion from of­fice, said for­mer Cal­i­for­nia Gover­nor Peter Wil­son.

The re­open­ing and nor­mal­iza­tion of China-US re­la­tion changed the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic land­scape of the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion and the world, herald­ing the end of the Cold War, Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to the US Cui Tiankai told at­ten­dees at the lun­cheon.

As the two largest economies in the world, China and the US share a re­spon­si­bil­ity to main­tain in­ter­na­tional peace and pro­mote world pros­per­ity, he said.

“The choices we make to­day will have a far-reach­ing im­pact on the well-be­ing of our peo­ples and the fu­ture of the world,” Cui said.

The choices we make to­day will have a far-reach­ing im­pact on the well-be­ing of our peo­ples.” Cui Tiankai, China’s am­bas­sador to the US

LIA ZHU / CHINA DAILY

Henry Kissinger (cen­ter) and Chi­nese Am­bas­sador Cui Tiankai (right) at­tend the ex­hibit TheWeek­thatChangedtheWorld at the Richard Nixon Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and Mu­seum on Friday in Yorba Linda, Cal­i­for­nia.

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