Archive for September 2nd, 2014

September 2, 2014

Only Nixon Could Go to China

nixon and mao by Edel Rodriguez

The phrase ‘Nixon goes to China‘ or ‘It took Nixon to go to China’ is a historical reference to President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to the People’s Republic of China, where he met with Chairman Mao Zedong.

As a political metaphor, it refers to the ability of a politician with an unassailable reputation among his supporters for representing and defending their values to take actions that would draw their criticism and even opposition if taken by someone without those credentials. Although Nixon’s example is that of a hardliner taking steps toward peace with a traditional enemy (the most common application of the metaphor), it could also be applied to a reputedly cautious diplomat defying expectations by taking military action, or a political leader reforming aspects of the political system of which they have been strong supporters.

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