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The West’s understanding and appreciation of Chinese technology and innovations starts and ends with the work of Joseph Needham. He will be remembered for his massive achievement embodied in the continuing Science and Civilisation in China series, the successive parts of which have been published by Cambridge University Press since 1954. This great work is planned as a history of science, technology and medicine in China, seen in its fullest social and intellectual context, and illuminated by a deep and sympathetic understanding of the cultures of both East and West. Through his writings he has radically changed the ways in which scholars and scientists evaluate both the history of Chinese culture, and the history of science medicine and technology understood as part of the common cultural heritage of the human race. He was undoubtedly the greatest Western sinologist of this century, and is probably the British historian best-known on a world scale. He has rightly been called “the Erasmus of the twentieth century”. Needham story has been celebrated in non-fiction work, The Man Who Love China (2008) by Simon Winchester.
Nixon on the Great Wall (1972)
The following remarks were made by President Richard Nixon to the media on his visit to the Great Wall of China. This photo speaks for itself as it has been replicated by at least six other sitting presidents. The origins of modern relations between the United States and China is best understood by examining Nixon’s overtures and extensive talks with Chinese leaders starting in 1970.
THE PRESIDENT. I can only say to the media, who, like myself, have never seen the Great Wall before, that it exceeds all expectations. When one stands there and sees the Wall going to the peak of this mountain and realizes that it runs for hundreds of miles, as a matter of fact thousands of miles, over the mountains and through the valleys of this country, that it was built over 2,000 years ago, I think that you would have to conclude that this is a great wall and that it had to be built by a great people.
Many lives, of course, were lost in building it because there was no machinery or equipment at the time. It had to all be done by hand. But under the circumstances, it is certainly a symbol of what China in the past has been and of what China in the future can become. A people who could build a wall like this certainly have a great past to be proud of and a people who have this kind of a past must also have a great future.
My hope is that in the future, perhaps as a result of the beginning that we have made on this journey, that many, many Americans, particularly the young Americans who like to travel so much, will have an opportunity to come here as I have come here today with Mrs. Nixon and the others in our party, that they will be able to see this Wall, that they will think back as I think back to the history of this great people, and that they will have an opportunity, as we have had an opportunity, to know the Chinese people, and know them better.
What is most important is that we have an open world. As we look at this Wall, we do not want walls of any kind between peoples. I think one of the results of our trip, we hope, may be that the walls that are erected, whether they are physical walls like this or whether they are other walls, ideology or philosophy, will not divide peoples in the world; that peoples, regardless of their differences and backgrounds and their philosophies, will have an opportunity to communicate with each other, to know each other, and to share with each other those particular endeavors that will mean peaceful progress in the years ahead.
So, all in all, I would say, finally, we have come a long way to be here today, 16,000 miles. Many things that have occurred on this trip have made me realize that it was worth coming, but I would say, as I look at the Wall, it is worth coming 16,000 miles just to stand here and see the Wall.