“The week that changed the world”
Watson, William Hays
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President Richard Nixon’s decision to establish relations with the People’s Republic of China represents a watershed moment in U.S. diplomatic history. While rhetorical scholars have closely scrutinized President Nixon’s public discourse on a variety of issues, few have paid close attention to his public discourses about China. This project aims to highlight the rhetorical significance of Nixon’s China rhetoric by analyzing its historical transformation over a twenty year period, beginning with Nixon’s anti-Communist/anti-China discourses as a member of Congress, Vice President and presidential aspirant to the President’s linguistic and visual rehumanization of the People’s Republic of China in ritualized settings while on his historic diplomatic visit. This project argues that “looking back” to Nixon’s visit to China and beyond enables rhetorical scholars to accurately assess and evaluate contemporary U.S. diplomacy towards China as well as U.S. diplomatic strategy at large.