When I was a child at the height of the Cold War, the press painted China in vivid primary colors—red menace, yellow peril, blue-clad masses. China was a back-burner story, however, compared to the Soviet threat, and my education through high school never touched upon it. A shift in public attention began with the 1971 China visit of the U.S. ping-pong team and Nixon's state visit in February 1972. Suddenly the mainstream U.S. press discovered beggar-free streets, healthy children, acupuncture anesthesia, and national optimism.

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