In pictures: U.S.-China relationship through the years

The U.S.-China partnership is among the world’s most important, encompassing the two countries’ shared economic and security interests and also a wide range of scientific, environmental, cultural and educational exchanges. Since January 1, 1979, when China and the United States formally established diplomatic relations, U.S. and Chinese leaders have met regularly to discuss vital issues and forge close ties.

Historic visit

Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong shaking hands (© AP Images)
President Richard Nixon meets Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing during Nixon’s 1972 trip to China. Nixon was the first U.S. president to visit after the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949. (© AP Images)

Ping-pong diplomacy

Table tennis game in large stadium filled with spectators (© AP Images)
China’s Li Fu-Yeng, left, and American Fuarnado Roberts play table tennis during a series of 1972 goodwill matches between the U. S. and China in Uniondale, New York. (© AP Images)

Dinner companions

Henry Kissinger and Zhou Enlai seated at table with others (© AP Images)
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Premier Zhou Enlai during dinner in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People in 1973. (© AP Images)

Visiting the U.S.

Deng Xiaoping and Jimmy Carter (© AP Images)
Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping and President Jimmy Carter smile in the Oval Office of the White House in 1979. (© AP Images)

Exploring the Lunar Rover

Man sitting in lunar rover vehicle with crowd around him (© AP Images)
Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping of China sits in a model of the lunar rover vehicle during a tour of Johnson Space Center in Houston in 1979. (© AP Images)

Factory tour

President Reagan sitting next to woman working on electronic device (© AP Images)
President Ronald Reagan examines a circuit board while touring the Foxboro Plant in Shanghai in 1984. At right is a Chinese worker at the plant. (© AP Images)

Old friends

Jimmy Carter and Deng Xiaoping embracing (© AP Images)
Jimmy Carter and China’s top leader, Deng Xiaoping, embrace during their 1987 meeting in Beijing. Carter was making a private visit to China. (© AP Images)

A return to China

George H.W. Bush waving from next to car (© AP Images)
President George H.W. Bush stands on his car and waves in Beijing during a visit in 1989. Bush had been the U.S. envoy to China from 1974 to 1975, before formal relations were established. (© AP Images)

Meeting the press

Jiang Zemin and Bill Clinton at lecterns (© AP Images)
President Bill Clinton gestures during his joint news conference with Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Washington in 1997. (© AP Images)

Another Bush in China

George W. Bush and Hu Jintao shaking hands in front of flags (© AP Images)
President George W. Bush shakes hands with Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People in 2005. (© AP Images)

Visiting with students

Barack Obama shaking hands of members of audience (© AP Images)
President Barack Obama greets audience members after a 2009 event with Chinese youth at the Museum of Science and Technology in Shanghai. (© AP Images)


Rex Tillerson and Xi Jinping shaking hands (© AP Images)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping before their meeting at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People in 2017. (© AP Images)

Today’s leaders

Peng Liyuan, Xi Jinping, Donald Trump and Melania Trump (© AP Images)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Trump with their wives, Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan and first lady Melania Trump, in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2017. (© AP Images)