As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are temporarily closed to the public as of Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time.
When President Richard M. Nixon opened a dialogue with Communist China in 1971, he began one of the most significant developments in modern diplomatic history. Ironically, it was this tough anti-Communist who prepared the way for a more flexible policy toward China. This caused a realignment of power in the Cold War world and enabled Nixon to pursue a less confrontational policy-détente-with the Soviets. "It took Nixon to go to China" has come to mean that only someone with a tough reputation can effect a reversal in policy. Notwithstanding Nixon's diplomatic breakthrough, he was criticized for being too self serving in describing his achievement. Mort Drucker's Time cover caricature of Nixon and Chinese leader Mao Zedong alludes to the U.S. table tennis team's famous 1971 visit to China, one of the first signs of a thaw between the two countries.