In the waning years of the Cultural Revolution, an ailing Mao achieved the last great political move of his career, normalizing relations with the United States.

Mao had initially appealed to the United States before the Communist victory in the Civil War, but had been ignored by fiercely anti-Communist members of the U.S. State Department.

Mao waited 26 more years, but in 1972 met with Nixon in Beijing to announce formal ties between the two countries. Mao’s last act finally put China back on the map politically and economically.