In 1971, the U.S. had virtually no relationship with China, which was completely closed off to most of the world. The president of the U.S. at the time was Richard Nixon.
President Richard Nixon made a diplomatic visit to China in 1972 and negotiated an agreement with China that despite concessions on Taiwan and lack of significant benefit in Vietnam, he came away with greatly improved trade and relations with China, and political levers against Russia, which overall have been beneficial for America in the long run.
Mao Zedong and Richard Nixon, February 1972, Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Richard Nixon shakes hands with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in Beijing, February 1972, White House Photo Office Collection (Nixon Administration)
Richard Nixon and Zhou Enlai toast, February 2, 1972, The Presidential Library
Nixon In China: The Week That Changed the World
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