Why did Nixon think that improving relations with China would make the Soviet Union more cooperative?
President Nixon believed that improving relations with China would also lead to improved relations with the Soviet Union. President Nixon knew that Communist China and the Soviet Union were rivals in the communist world. He believed that if we played one against the other, we would get better relations with both countries since each country would want to have a better relationship with us than the other country would have with us.
In February 1972, President Nixon became the first President to visit Communist China. As a result of his visit, we resumed trading with China. He also indicated the United States wanted to recognize Communist China as the official government of China.
Three months later, in May 1972, President Nixon went to the Soviet Union for a summit meeting. One result of this meeting was the signing of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. This agreement limited the number of antiballistic weapons each country would have.
As predicted, improving relations with China led to improved relations with the Soviet Union.