President Richard Nixon shakes hands with Communist Chinese leader Mao Zedong during Nixon’s historic trip to Communist China on February 21, 1972 in Peking. During the 1970s, Nixon was pursuing a policy of detente with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The aim was to lessen tensions in various areas of the world, while competing actively in others. At the same time, Nixon was preparing for U.S. diplomatic recognition of China, which eventually happened under President Carter in 1979. A secret Kissinger trip to Beijing in 1971, then Nixon’s highly publicized visit in 1972 set the course for the historic change.