Christopher Nixon Cox (L) and Andrea Catsimatidis (R) in Bejing. (Sina Weibo)]
In 1972, President Richard Nixon became the first American leader to visit the People's Republic of China, a stunning diplomatic about-face that altered the course of history for the two countries. In subsequent years the event is remembered by books, a musical, and an enduring idiom in American politics. For a presidency marred by unfortunate shenanigans both domestic and foreign, the China trip represents one of the few bright spots.
41 years later, Nixon's grandson Christopher Nixon Cox has recreated the president's trip in order to commemorate the centennial of Nixon's birth. In the spirit of historical accuracy, Cox and his 23-year old wife, billionaire supermarket heiress Andrea Catsimatidis, chose to match the precise itinerary of the journey, visiting such sites as The Forbidden City and The Great Wall. The two even recreated the famous shot of Mr. and Mrs. Nixon posing with an elephant statue at the Ming Tombs.
However, Cox -- or rather, his young wife -- has sparked a minor scandal in Chinese social media with her revealing wardrobe, with a photo of the peroxide blonde in her cleavage-bearing top even making the front page of the China Daily. Why the heiress chose to dress for a stroll along the Great Wall as if she was going to pop into a Las Vegas club on the way back hasn't been explained, but it has proven to be a distraction from the original intent of the trip.
(The minor scandal has also provided a fresh opportunity to revisit the unusual circumstances surrounding the Cox/Catsimatidis nuptials. The Republican groom met his then-17 year old future wife in 2008 at her New York City high school, where he was campaigning for the ill-fated John McCain presidential campaign. According to this deliciously snarky Gawker profile, Cox proposed to Catsimiditis two years later -- at the very same high school, where the occasion was preserved for posterity by the school's security camera. But moving right along ... )
As it would happen, the grandson of Mao Zedong, the Chinese leader who shook Nixon's hand all those years ago, is likewise the subject of much mockery among China's chattering classes. The 43-year old Mao Xinyu, once dubiously awarded the status of "Major General" by the People's Liberation Army, is routinely derided by his countrymen for his obesity and lack of accomplishment, while cheerfully admitting that his lofty title results from little besides nepotism.
So while Cox may be mildly embarrassed at the attention given to his wife's assets (financial or otherwise), he can rest assured that, in the all-important category of "grandsons of long-dead heads of state", he comes out ever-so slightly ahead.
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Matt Schiavenza is the senior content manager at the Asia Society and a former contributing writer for The Atlantic.