Nixon in China in History and On Stage

EUGENE, Ore. -- (March 7, 2012 ) – The month-long celebration of the 40-year anniversary of the 1972 trip to China by President Richard Nixon and national security advisor Henry Kissinger continues this weekend with a ping pong diplomacy tournament and a visit by the Chinese Consul General and U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Platt.

The events are part of a series of events including lectures, panels and an exhibition at the University of Oregon in conjunction with a Eugene Opera production of John Adams's Opera, "Nixon in China."

The Nixon-Kissinger trip, which produced the Shanghai Communiqué, signed by Nixon and Premier Zhou Enlai, is known in popular history as "the week that changed the world." According to Bryna Goodman, professor of Chinese history and executive director of the UO Confucius Institute, this transformative moment realigned global power relations and created a basis for communication and understanding between the people of the U.S. and China.

"The passage of time, the dynamism of China's economy, and the crucial importance today of U.S.-China relations work together to stimulate fascination with the historic encounter 40 years ago," said Goodman.

A student-organized "Ping Pong Diplomacy Tournament" takes place at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, at 220 Gerlinger Hall. Organized by the School of Law's UO Competition Not Conflict Club, the tournament commemorates the Chinese invitation to the U.S. Ping Pong team in 1971, and will be attended by a delegation from UO partner university in Shanghai, East China Normal University. For event registration information, contact Jess Zutz, jzutz@uoregon.edu.

Ambassador Nicholas Platt, American diplomat and participant in the 1972 Nixon/Kissinger entourage, will speak at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 11, at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Platt will talk about his diplomatic experiences in China, show home movies from 1970s Beijing, and read from his memoir "China Boys." Chinese Consul General Gao Zhansheng will be in attendance, with Dr. Tong Shijun, chair of the University Council of East China Normal University. Attending dignitaries will be greeted by Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy.

Scheduled events will extend beyond campus into the Eugene arts and business communities thanks to a partnership with the Eugene Opera, which will perform "Nixon in China" on March 16 and March 18.

"This is an extraordinary and unique collaboration between the opera and the university," said Mark Beudert, director of the Eugene Opera and director of opera studies at Notre Dame University. Beudert will sing the role of Chairman Mao in the opera, which highlights creative interpretation of history in a drama of personalities, psychology and politics.

"The breadth of the planned events offers many opportunities for individuals to become acquainted with living history, learn about China and think about history, politics, performance and interpretation," said Goodman.

Peter Sellars, the avant-garde theater director who originally conceived the "Nixon in China" opera and directed a production at the Metropolitan Opera in New York this year, will discuss "Nixon in China Then and Now," at 4:30 p.m. on March 8, at Beall Hall on campus.

On March 12, Ambassador Platt will join William Kirby, Harvard University's TM Chang Professor of Chinese Studies; Dingli Shen, dean, Institute of International Affairs, Fudan University; and Robert Keatley, former diplomatic correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, who also accompanied the U.S. delegation in 1972, for a 4 p.m. panel at JSMA: "The Shanghai Communiqué and 40 Years of US-China Relations."

On March 15, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Hult Center, Robert Kapp, former president, US-China Business Council; Keith Davey, former vice president, Ford China; and Denis Simon, China Initiatives vice provost, Arizona State University, join panelists from Business Oregon, King Estate Winery and Forrest Paints in a panel on "40 years of US-China Business Relations."

For a culinary remembrance of the meal served to President Nixon and Chairman Mao in the Great Hall of the People, Chef Stephanie Pearl Kimmel, owner of Marché and James Beard Award nominee, will serve "The Gam Bei Dinner" at 6 p.m. on March 15 and March 17, at The Inn at the 5th. The five-course dinner is $100 per person. For reservations, contact Tony Meyeror call 541-485-3985.

Tickets to the Eugene Opera's "Nixon in China" on March 16 and March 18 are available for purchase at: http://www.nixoninchinaeugene.com/tickets.html.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Julie Brown, UO media relations, 541-346-3185, julbrown@uoregon.edu; Anthony Meyer, Eugene Opera, 541-343-8442, meyer@eugeneopera.com.

LINK:  http://nixoninchinaeugene.com/events.html

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