Richard Solomon, whose ‘ping-pong diplomacy’ helped Nixon normalize US relations with China, dies aged 79.
Top US diplomat and China scholar Richard Solomon, who played a leading role in the opening of US relations with Beijing under Richard Nixon in the 1970s, has died at the age of 79, the State Department said on Wednesday.
A political scientist who died on Monday at his home outside Washington, DC, Solomon served on the National Security Council under Nixon, advising national security advisor Henry Kissinger and helping spearhead the “ping-pong diplomacy” that led to the normalising of diplomatic relations with Communist China in 1978-1979.
Solomon was a “distinguished diplomat, peacemaker and scholar who devoted his life to building bridges between the United States and East Asia,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.
Later, Solomon went to work at the State Department in the 1980s, becoming assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs in 1989, just as relations with China nosedived after the Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
He then became a key architect of the 1991 Paris Peace Accord ending the Cambodian-Vietnamese war.
His State Department portfolio, at various times, included democratisation movements from Manila to Santiago, Chile, and nuclear arms talks with Moscow and Pyongyang, North Korea.
Former US secretary of state George Shultz praised Solomon’s skill in strategic long-term planning, particularly on the “evolving relationship” with the collapsing Soviet Union.
But the central focus on his life’s work was China … (read more)