State visit by Deng Xiaoping to the United States

The state visit of Deng Xiaoping to the United States (Chinese: 1979年邓小平访美) was the first official visit by a paramount leader of China to the US. Deng undertook the visit in his official capacities as the First Vice Premier of the State Council and the Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.[1] The visit initiated a series of high-level exchanges that would continue until the spring of 1989. It also marked the highest-ranking Chinese visit to the country since Chiang Kai-shek of the Republic of China in 1943. Announced on 15 December 1978, the visit began in late January 1979 and went on into February.

Deng and President Jimmy Carter inspected the joint-service honor guard during an arrival ceremony for Deng at the White House.

Meetings and ceremoniesEdit

Visit to Washington D.C. (29-31 January)Edit

Welcoming ceremony and bilateral meetingsEdit

Deng arrived in the capital Washington D.C. on 29 January with his wife Zhuo Lin. He was welcomed to the White House with full military honors from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), Ceremonial Company A at Marine Barracks Washington, the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard, the United States Air Force Honor Guard, the United States Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard as well as the United States Army Band. A 19-gun salute was also fired in honor of Deng.[2]

During a bilateral meeting with Carter, he criticized Soviet relations with Vietnam, saying the following to him and Secretary Cyrus Vance:[3]

Vietnam is playing the role of Cuba. Of course, the Soviet Union will make use of Vietnam to harass China. Vietnam is also an important factor in the Soviet "Asian collective security system."

State dinnerEdit

Nixon speaking with Deng Xiaoping and Jimmy Carter at the White House.

The evening of 29 January, a state dinner was held in honor of Deng and his delegation at the White House.[4] It marked the first return of former President Richard Nixon to the White House since his resignation speech in August 1974. Originally, President Carter refused to invite Nixon, however Deng had stated that he would visit him at his California residence if he was not invited. During the dinner, Nixon had a private meeting with both Deng and Carter.[5] A string section from the United States Air Force Band began to perform as dessert was being served. Following the dinner, Deng and Carter went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts[6] to witness performances by groups such as the Joffrey Ballet as well as singers such as John Denver and Shirley MacLaine.[7]

Joint CommuniqueEdit

Jimmy Carter and Deng at the Signing Ceremony.

The Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations was signed during the visit. It followed the announcement of the ending of official U.S. recognition of the Republic of China (commonly known as "Taiwan"), in December 1978 as well as the full withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel from Taiwan and the end to the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty.

Visit to Georgia (1-2 February)Edit

On 1 February, he arrived in Atlanta, the capital of the state of Georgia, Carter's home state. In Atlanta he visited the headquarters of Coca Cola and later toured the Atlanta Assembly owned by the Ford Motor Company in Hapeville.[8] A banquet was held in honor of Deng the evening of 2 February.[9] The Atlanta Chapter of the National Association of Chinese-Americans was inaugurated the following year as a result of his visit.[10]

Visit to Texas (2-3 February)Edit

Deng Xiaoping (left) and his wife Zhuo Lin (right) are briefed by Johnson Space Center director Christopher C. Kraft (extreme right)

On the morning of 2 February, he arrived at Houston Intercontinental Airport where he was greeted by Mayor of Houston Jim McConn. He arrived on Air Force One with local congressman Mickey Leland. At the arrival ceremony, McConn presented Deng with a box of silver spurs. During this visit he visited the Johnson Space Center and Hughes Tool Company. During the former visit, he climbed on top of a lunar rover used by the Apollo 11 mission. That evening, he was presented a Stetson cowboy hat during a rodeo he attended in Simonton hosted by what is now the Greater Houston Partnership.[11][12]

Visit to the State of Washington (3-5 February)Edit

He arrived in the evening on 3 February at Boeing Field in Seattle before being transported to the Washington Plaza Hotel. He was accompanied by United States Secretary of Energy James R. Schlesinger, Governor Dixy Lee Ray and Senators Warren Magnuson and Henry M. Jackson. He also visited former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. He visited a factory which assembles Boeing 747s.[13]

Reactions and aftermathEdit

Most of the American public's reaction toward the visit was hostile, with Maoists and nationalists often staging protests.[14] Four days prior to his visit, a group of anti-Deng protesters broke the entrance glass to what is now the Embassy of China in Washington, D.C. During the welcoming ceremony at the White House, two protesters were taken away from the press area after chanting anti-Chinese slogans. In Houston, there was an assassination attempt by a Ku Klux Klan member against Deng. The KKK member, who rushed to the podium where Deng was speaking with a knife, was intercepted by an agent of the United States Secret Service.[15][16]

On March 1, 1979, formal embassies were established in the capitals of the two countries. Vice President Walter Mondale reciprocated Deng's visit with a trip to Mainland China in August 1979. Two weeks later, the SS Letitia Lykes entered Shanghai harbor in the first US-flagged ship to visit the PRC in 30 years.[17] This visit led to agreements in September 1980 on maritime affairs, civil aviation links, and textile matters, as well as a bilateral consular convention.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Deng's visit: New era of friendship".
  2. ^ "America puts the flag out for Deng | China | the Guardian".
  3. ^ "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977–1980, Volume XIII, China - Office of the Historian".
  4. ^ "Photos from State Dinners Past - the Atlantic". The Atlantic.
  5. ^ Ambrose 1991, pp. 524–525.
  6. ^ "January 29, 1979 Performance of American Arts for Deng Xiaoping". 28 January 2019.
  7. ^ "History of China State Visits to the White House".
  8. ^ "Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping touring the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant, Hapeville, Georgia, February 1, 1979. - Digital Library of Georgia".
  9. ^ "Banquet for Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping during his visit to Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia, February 2, 1979".
  10. ^ "The National Association of Chinese-Americans | NACA | Atlanta".
  11. ^ "Teng Speaks of Plans for Imports in Billions". The New York Times. 4 February 1979.
  12. ^ "Foster: Houston plays key role in U.S. - China relations". 6 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping (Or Teng Hsiao-ping) arrives in Seattle for a two-day visit on February 3, 1979".
  14. ^ "This Day in History: Deng Xiaoping's Historic Visit to the US".
  15. ^
  16. ^ Hornby, Lucy (17 May 2015). "Deng Xiaoping and the KKK plot exposed . . . 30-plus years later". Financial Times.
  17. ^

External linksEdit