On February 21, 1972, Richard M. Nixon arrived in China for an eight-day official visit. He was the first U.S. president to visit the People's Republic of China since its inception in 1949.
The meeting between Nixon and Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai resulted in a pledge to expand cultural contacts between the two nations and plans to establish a permanent U.S. trade mission in China. In addition, the U.S. agreed to a gradual withdrawal of its troops from the island of Taiwan.
The United States began to take an active interest in establishing political and economic ties with China in the nineteenth century. After Japan attempted to invade China in 1894-1895, Russia, France, Germany, and Great Britain sought to protect their interests in China by carving the nation into spheres of influence. The U.S., an important power in the Pacific as a consequence of its victory, in 1898, in the Spanish-American War, attempted to prevent this division with the formulation, in 1899 and 1900, of what came to be known as the Open Door Policy. This policy proposed to ensure all nations equal trading privileges in China and to protect Chinese sovereignty.