Lead: They were vigorous ideological opponents. Therefore, President Richard Nixon and the Communist leaders of China were in an excellent position to break out of old habits.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The habit of opposition can stand in the way of diplomatic progress. In the early 1970s for hard-nosed political and economic reasons, the old enemies, Communist China and the United States, reached out to one another. The United States was mired in a war in Vietnam it could not win without provoking a wider Asian conflict, Nixon needed a boost to his re-election chances, and the vast Chinese market offered hope for expanded trade to a troubled American economy. Mao Zedong and the other Chinese leaders were just emerging from the isolation of the highly destructive Cultural Revolution, needed a counter-weight in their disputes with the Soviet Union, and wanted U.S. concessions on the Taiwan dispute and the China seat in the United Nations. They also desired access to Western technology.