Getting To Know One Another

When Richard Nixon flew into Beijing on the morning of February 21, 1972, Mao Zedong was so thrilled, he wanted the U.S. President to come straight from the airport to meet him. Mao had been seriously ill for weeks: resuscitation equipment was hidden behind potted plants in his residence in case he collapsed during the meeting. The Chairman was fitted with a new Mao suit to conceal edematous bloating. That morning he had his first haircut in five months.

Nixon was allowed to go from the airport to a guest bungalow, and to lunch with Premier Zhou Enlai....

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