Dick climbed into the back seat of the Mercedes. “Slide over, Patty,” he said.
“Where’s Premier Chou?” Pat asked.
“He’s coming along in the other car,” Dick said, chafing his hands together. “Goddamn, it’s cold here. Never thought of China as being cold.”
“Well,” said Pat, “they seem awfully fond of those fur hats.”
He smiled. Good old Pat. “They can build damned good walls, too.”
“You’re nervous,” she said.
“About meeting Mao? Goddamned right. He probably is too.”
“You always swear when you’re nervous. Dirty Dick is back.”
“I promise not to swear for the translator.”
She thumbed open a small book. “I found something you might say to him to break the ice. Better the weak tea of a friend than the sweet wine of an enemy.”
“I like that. Is that Confucius or Lao Tzu?”
“Charlie Chan,” she said.
He grinned. “The press will eat it up.”
“We will discuss a lot of things. We will discuss their role in the Pacific and our role
in the Pacific. We will disagree on a lot of things. But the most important thing about that
visit is that it occurs and that the Chinese and the United States will have begun a
process of, shall we say, getting to know each other. Now, this is not said in any sense of
sentimentality. There are many people who have looked at the China visit and interpreted it exactly the wrong way. They say ‘oh, this is great-the- now the United States and China, really never had any differences, that everything’s going to be settled.’ It’s not that. No one in this world knows how great the gulf is between their philosophy and ours, their interests and ours. But also no one in this world knows better than I do how imperative it is to see that great nations that have enormous differences where you’ve got the nuclear thing hanging in the balance have got to find ways to, you know, talk. Get along. “
–Richard Nixon to Alexander Haig, just prior to his historic 1972 visit to Communist China