This month marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of formal diplomatic relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China.
In a letter of congratulations to China's President Hu Jintao, President George W. Bush said, "This decision by our 2 governments transcended profound differences in our nations' histories, cultures, and political systems and bridged a seemingly impossible divide."
The decision to normalize relations came after decades of division and conflict. In the late 1960's, U.S. and Chinese political leaders decided that improved bilateral relations were in their common interest.
In 1969, the United States initiated measures to relax trade restrictions and other impediments to bilateral contact. On July 15, 1971, President Richard Nixon announced that his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Dr. Henry Kissinger, had made a secret trip to Beijing to initiate direct contact with the Chinese leadership and that, he, President Nixon, had been invited to China.
In February 1972, President Nixon traveled to Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai. At the conclusion of his trip, the U.S. and Chinese Governments issued the "Shanghai Communiqué," a statement of their foreign policy views. In the Communiqué, both nations pledged to work toward the full normalization of diplomatic relations.
That normalization was achieved on January 1, 1979 with the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations. The United States and China formally established embassies in Beijing and Washington, D.C. on March 1, 1979.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was in Beijing to commemorate the 30th anniversary of normalization of U.S.-China relations. "The changes in our relationship since that time have been truly dramatic," he said. "Today, instead of living in isolation from each other, we are interdependent."
President Bush said, "The peoples of the United States and China have come to know each other well over the last 30 years. Together, we have built bridges between our 2 nations in every conceivable field – from commerce and trade to education, science, sports, and the arts."
President Bush said he is confident that "working with common purpose and determination, our 2 nations can successfully address global challenges to ensure that our children inherit a truly better and safer world."