When he met with China's leaders during Nixon's first term, writes Kissinger, "we developed between us a habit of candor, honesty and long-range thinking." It was this, he adds, that became "the key to the Chinese-American relationship at a point when few concrete results were achievable and our bonds depended on intangibles. Our ties were cemented not by formal agreements but by a common assessment of the international situation." In two long talks with Mao in 1973, Kissinger helped solidify those ties.

During his lifetime, Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Communist Party of...

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