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Winston Lord

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Nixon in China, 40 Years Later

Posted: 02/22/2012 11:12 am

Forgive me if my first entry for Huffington Post is prone to bragging. This week marks the 40th anniversary of President Nixon's historic visit to China. I am proud that my father, Winston Lord, played an instrumental role in Sino-American relations across the last 40+ years. He had the privilege of serving his country as special assistant to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, President Ford's Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, President Reagan's Ambassador to China and President Clinton's Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.

I would like to dispel a few myths that persist today.

Myth: Henry Kissinger was the first American official in China since 1949.

Fact: On Kissinger's secret trip to China in July 1971, my dad conveniently made sure he was at the front of the Pakistani-piloted plane as it entered Chinese airspace. Some would say he ran to the front. Lest Kissinger forget, my father ribs Kissinger every time they get together.

Myth: Henry Kissinger was the only other American official present at President Nixon's first meeting with Mao.

Fact: My father was also there but cropped out of the "official photo" so as not to offend Secretary of State William Rogers, who was not. If you look closely at the official photo, you can see my father's shoe, but here's actual proof.

2012-02-22-NixonMaofirstmeeting.jpg

Myth: Diplomatic memos are rather dull.

Fact: My dad is notorious for his bad puns like his observation of one of the negotiators during the talks to end the Vietnam war: "Xuan Thuy does not make a forest."

Thank you for indulging. I'm China give props to my dad's legacy while Peking out from behind a ton of work here at Venga.

Two links of note: For years, I tried to convince my father to write a memoir but he did one better. He created an exhaustive oral history that any scholar, media or person interested in Chinese recipes captured by FBI wiretaps can access for free.

US-China Institute's Mike Chinoy produced a fascinating documentary looking at Nixon's historic trip from the journalists' perspective -- imagine a time before Twitter, Facebook and cable news.

 

Follow Winston Lord on Twitter: www.twitter.com/winstonlord