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Nixon's grandson Cox retraces former president's 1972 China tour

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Christopher Nixon Cox, grandson of former President Richard Nixon,and his wife, Andrea Catsimatidis, tour the Great Wall of China at Badaling, north of Beijing, Saturday, May 4, 2013. A delegation led by Cox is here to commemorate Nixon's centennial by retracing his historic 1972 visit to China.

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By The Los Angeles Times
Saturday, May 4, 2013, 8:09 p.m.
 

BEIJING — “He would be amazed,” exclaimed Christopher Nixon Cox, digging into a plate of fried rice in a starkly modern restaurant with black-clad waiters and white walls at the foot of the Great Wall of China.

Cox was referring to his grandfather, the late President Richard Nixon, whose 1972 trip to China he is retracing.

Although the 34-year-old investment banker has been to China 15 times, he was channeling what he imagined would have been the late president's awe four decades after that historic visit at seeing the skyscrapers, the bumper-to-bumper freeways, the fashions and other obvious manifestations of rising affluence.

“I remember my grandfather telling me that to have 1 billion of the world's most hard-working and talented people in isolation is something that is dangerous for the world,” Cox recalled over lunch on Saturday near the Badaling section of the Great Wall. “He felt that a prosperous China was critical for peace and stability.”

Nixon's 1972 trip is credited for prying open China to the world.

The commemorative trip, which marks 100 years since Nixon's birth, is patterned on the 1972 trip, with visits to Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai and obligatory stops at all the landmarks: Tiananmen Square, the Great Hall of the People and, of course, the Great Wall.

The delegation of more than 40 people includes Robert “Bud” McFarlane, who served as President Reagan's national security adviser, and Cox's wife, a striking blonde supermarket heiress, Andrea Catsimatidis, who has attracted the most attention from the Chinese.

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