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Assignment: China

Assignment: China

CBS News correspondent Dan Rather arrives in Beijing in Feb. 1972. (Courtesy Ed Fouhy)

"The Week That Changed the World"

Richard Nixon's visit to China in February 1972 changed the course of history — reshaping the global balance of power and opening the door to the establishment of relations between the People's Republic and the United States.

It was also a milestone in the history of journalism. Since the Communist revolution of 1949, a suspicious regime in Beijing had barred virtually all U.S. reporters from China. For the Nixon trip, however, the Chinese agreed to accept nearly 100 journalists, and to allow the most dramatic events — Nixon's arrival in Beijing, Zhou Enlai's welcoming banquet, visits to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City — to be televised live.

The coverage was arguably as important as the details of the diplomacy. It profoundly transformed American and international perceptions of a long-isolated China, generated the public support Nixon needed to change U.S. policy, and laid the groundwork for Beijing's gradual move to open China to greater international media coverage.

While the outlines of the Nixon trip are familiar, the behind-the-scenes story of how that momentous event was covered is much less well-known. Now, the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California has produced a new documentary film, Assignment: China – The Week That Changed the World. The film contains remarkable and previously unreleased footage of the Nixon visit, interviews with Chinese officials, people who worked for Nixon, as well as many of the journalistic luminaries who accompanied the president. These include Dan Rather and Bernard Kalb of CBS, Ted Koppel and Tom Jarriel of ABC, Barbara Walters of NBC, Max Frankel of the New York Times, Stanley Karnow of the Washington Post, and many others.

Reported and narrated by U.S.-China Institute Senior Fellow Mike Chinoy, formerly CNN's Senior Asia Correspondent and Beijing Bureau Chief, the film offers a fascinating and previously untold perspective on one of the most important historical moments of the 20th century.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Ambassador Nicholas Platt (who traveled with Nixon on his historic trip to China), Max Frankel (the former NY Times correspondent who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for his reporting on Nixon's trip), Mike Chinoy, and moderated by Orville Schell (Arthur Ross Director, Center on US-China Relations, Asia Society).

Organized by the Center on US-China Relations at Asia Society.

Related Links
How Much Credit for China's Rise Goes to Richard Nixon?
 [Asia Blog]

Event Details

31 January 2012
6:30pm - 8:15pm

725 Park Avenue, New York, NY

Student: $5, senior: $7, non-Member: $10, Member: Free