It’s great to be back in Shanghai. I have fond memories of my countless visits here over the years. I stayed down the road at the JinJiang Hotel in 1984, when I was helping to prepare President [Ronald] Reagan’s trip to China. At that time, Deng Xiaoping was in charge, Jiang Zemin was a local politician, the Peace Hotel was a hang-out for local party cadres, and Pudong was nothing more than a collection of rice paddies.
During that visit at the Jinjiang, I wandered down to the original Chinese Communist Party auditorium and imagined what it must have been like to be present when President [Richard] Nixon and Premier Zhou Enlai signed the Shanghai communiqué in February 1972.
From where we stand today, it is easy to forget just how turbulent that time was. The scars of the Korean War remained fresh in our nations’ memories, China lost 400,000 of its men, including the son of Mao Zedong, the Vietnam War was still raging at the time of the Shanghai Communiqué, and China was still embroiled in the Cultural Revolution.
Balance-of-power politics and the threat from the Soviet Union provided the spark for a resumption of contact. Our shared strategic interest in a secure, prosperous, and peaceful world transformed that initial spark into a robust bilateral relationship.
Jon M. Huntsman Jr. is the United States Ambassador to China until his resignation comes into effect on April 30, 2011.He previously served as the 16th Governor of Utah.
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