Between February 21 and 28, 1972, former US president Richard Nixon visited China, in what he dubbed, upon leaving the country, “the week that changed the world”. This February marks the 50th anniversary of the historic visit, the details of which have never failed to fascinate.
作为尼克松国家安全顾问基辛格(Henry Kissinger)的特别助理，84岁的温斯顿·洛德(Winston Lord)全程参与了尼克松访华的前期谋划和准备工作。1972年2月21日，他和尼克松乘坐同一架飞机抵达北京。
Special assistant to Nixon’s national security adviser Henry Kissinger, Winston Lord was a core member of the preparation team for the presidential visit. He was on the same plane with the president as they landed at Beijing’s Capital Airport in the late morning of Feb 21, 1972.
Around 2:20 pm, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai turned up at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse and told president Nixon that Chairman Mao wanted to see him “immediately”. “Kissinger, to my everlasting gratitude, asked me to go (together with him),” said Lord, 84.
Pictures of the meeting hit the front pages of all the world’s major newspapers, but Lord, sitting beside Kissinger on the picture’s far right, was missing. “Nixon and Kissinger told the Chinese: ‘Please cut out Mr Lord from all of the photographs and keep secret that he was at this meeting’,” Lord said. “The Chinese clearly must have been puzzled by this, but they readily went along with the request. I, of course, was disappointed.” But he understood the rationale, he said. “They figured that it was humiliating enough that the national security adviser was with the president at this historic meeting, but the secretary of state was not. Now to have a third, younger person there was just too much.” The reason behind the exclusion, Lord said, was that “Kissinger and above all Nixon were suspicious of the State Department”. “Nixon felt that they were more bureaucratic and incapable of bold moves. They were also very worried about leaks.”
On his visit in February 1973, Zhou Enlai gave Lord the original picture taken during the Nixon-Mao meeting, which attests to his presence.
Calling Mao’s style of conversing as "self-deprecating", "casual and episodic" yet "purposeful", Lord said, "Rather than using elegant, long phrases like Zhou Enlai did, he would use analogies, metaphors and similes – brief-brushstroke comments that you had to sometimes interpret or decipher… We soon realized that he was outlining, with those broad and brief brushstrokes, the strategic policy guidelines which Zhou would then elaborate in great detail." "Clearly, Nixon and Mao recognized each other’s vision and courage in taking this important step," Lord said, pointing to Mao’s decision to meet Nixon immediately upon the latter’s arrival as a deliberate show of endorsement, not to be missed by anyone.
Throughout the trip, Lord, who during preparations had put together six black briefing books which, if stacked, “would easily have been more than a foot tall”, continually received requests coming back from Nixon for more information. “I have never seen any president work as hard for a single event or trip as Nixon worked for this trip,” Lord said, pointing to the president’s handwritten marks and annotations on almost every page of the briefing books.
However, all of this preparation didn't do the president much good when he got to the Great Wall. “It surely is a great wall,” was all he could initially muster when asked to comment on the scene.
At the farewell evening banquet on Feb 28, Nixon toasted the “week that changed the world”. Later that night, Nixon, who looked “drained but satisfied”, accompanied Platt to the door of his suite at the end of an informal meeting he held for some of the US staff. Placing “an avuncular arm” on his shoulder, Nixon said, “You China boys are going to have a lot more to do from now on.” Back in Beijing in the Spring of 1973, Platt was involved in “physically building” the new US Liaison Office. He was president of the New York-based Asia Society between 1992 and 2004.
“一切都让我内心激荡 – 展现在眼前的风景和我们此行即将与中国人一起带给世界的巨大震动和它的深远意义。”洛德说。
Between 1985 and 1989, Lord served as the US ambassador to China. Back on July 9, 1971, to negotiate with the Chinese on a possible visit by President Nixon, Kissinger led a four-men group, of which Lord was a member, on a secret visit to Beijing. As they were about to cross the Pakistani-Chinese border into Chinese aerial space at sunrise hour, their plane skirted the planet’s second-tallest peak, Qiaogeli Feng, known as K2 in the West, which had reputedly killed about one out in five climbers who had tried to reach its summit. “I was overwhelmed as much by the unraveling scenery as by the huge implications and repercussions that we were about to unleash together with the Chinese,” said Lord.
今天，关于那次访问著名的故事就是基辛格的胃部不适 (Kissinger’s upset stomach)。这位国家安全顾问在公开宣布的越南、泰国、印度和巴基斯坦四国之行的最后一站谎称胃疼并以此为由暂离公事。7月9日凌晨，当人们都认为他在“闭门修养”时，基辛格在洛德等人的陪同下在伊斯兰堡的一个机场登上了开往中国的飞机。在此之前的一段时间，巴基斯坦一直是中美沟通的桥梁。然而，这个故事还有一个插曲。
Today the best-known story from that trip was Kissinger’s upset stomach. The national security adviser, on the last leg of a publicly announced trip that included Vietnam, Thailand, India and Pakistan, pleaded stomachache. While he was supposedly recuperating in a hill station, the Pakistanis, who had been acting as a major channel of communication between the Americans and the Chinese, ferreted him and his four-man group to an airport in Islamabad in the wee hours of July 9, 1971. However, there is a twist to that story. “Ironically, Kissinger came down with a real stomachache in India, he covered this up as much as possible because he wanted to save his real illness until he arrived in Pakistan,” Lord said.
总统随行人员之一尼古拉斯·卜励德(Nicholas Platt)形容《华盛顿邮报》的斯坦利·卡诺(Stanley Karnow)是“一只兴奋、好奇的熊猫”。在1972年的访问中，卜励德是美国国务卿威廉·罗杰斯(William Rogers)的特别助理。
1972年，周恩来在人民大会堂为尼克松一行举行接风宴会 图源：AP Photo/中国日报
“A joyful, inquisitive panda” was how Nicholas Platt, a member of the presidential entourage, describes Stanley Karnow of the Washington Post. For the 1972 trip, Platt was special assistant to US secretary of state William Rogers. Speaking to China Daily, the 85-year-old recalled the “magic” of the opening banquet on the night of Nixon’s arrival, hosted by Zhou and held at the Great Hall of the People, whose size “made one feel like an ant in a movie set”. “Everyone in the president’s party was invited, including aircrews and baggage handlers, flowing in an excited crowd up the staircase.”
随行一共有87位记者和二三十位技术支持人员。这些位置的竞争异常激烈。在讲述随行媒体人员经历的纪录片《任务：中国 – 改变世界的一周》中，《时代》(Time)杂志摄影记者德克·霍尔斯特德(Dirck Halstead)如是描述这种激烈程度：“为了登上出访的媒体专机，这些人即使把自己母亲推到飞机轮子底下也会在所不惜。”
A total of 87 journalists and a couple dozen technicians formed the US media group for the trip. And it’s not exaggerating to say that people had been crawling over themselves to get onboard. “We are talking about people who would very happily push their own mothers under the wheels of the plane to get on that trip,” said Dirck Halstead, a photojournalist for Time magazine, while being interviewed for the 2012 documentary Assignment: China – The Week That Changed The World.
1972年，尼克松夫妇游览北京十三陵 图源：AP PHOTO/中国日报
The press had been warned about the cold weather of Beijing. “(Prior to the trip) we all went out and bought these long johns that became what we wore every day while we were in Beijing. The problem with that was that most of the time we were there, we were in these overheated state halls…” said Halstead.
“I remembered that I had asked for hot water because in those days I was boiling my contact lenses. And every time I ask for hot water, they sent me tea”, said Barbara Walters, another member of the media group.
The media coverage led to almost instant romance and euphoria. “This reflected an inbuilt respect and affection for the Chinese people, which certainly was reciprocated,” said Lord, “This move, clearly popular around the world, also lifted the morale. The American people, fatigued and demoralized by years of domestic turmoil and the costly Vietnam war, saw that we could still act dramatically on the world stage.” “They instinctively understood that this opening could yield diplomatic benefits for the United States.”