BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday met with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, warmly referring to him as an “old friend” whose memory he will always cherish.
“Once again, China and the US are at a crossroads of where to go from here, and once again, both sides need to make a choice,” Xi told the former US diplomat, as he arrived in Beijing to “break the ice” between the US and China
The meeting was held as part of ongoing initiatives by Beijing and Washington to mend tense ties.
While serving as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger made a key diplomatic contribution in the 1970s by promoting the improvement of relations between Washington and Beijing.
“The Chinese people never forget their old friends, and Sino-US relations will always be linked with the name of Henry Kissinger,” Xi told him at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where foreign dignitaries are often received.
President Xi underlined the unique significance of this specific visit while acknowledging Kissinger’s recent 100th birthday celebration and his more than 100 visits to China.
As a US diplomat who enjoys great esteem in China and has made frequent trips there since he left office, Kissinger recalled and expressed his appreciation for the meeting taking place in the same location as his first meetings with Chinese leaders.
“The relationship between our two countries is a matter of world peace and the progress of human society,” China’s official news agency Xinhua cited Kissinger as saying.
“Under the current circumstances, it is imperative to maintain the principles established by the Shanghai Communique, appreciate the utmost importance China attaches to the one-China principle, and move the relationship in a positive direction,” Kissinger said in the meeting.
This meeting takes place at a crucial time when both superpowers are working to keep their already fragile relationship—which is currently at an all-time low—from getting worse.
“China is willing to discuss with the US side the right way for the two countries to get along and promote the steady progress of China-US relations,” Xi said.
He went on to say that the key is to adhere to the values of “mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation.” China and the US can succeed and flourish together, he stressed.
Kissinger held private discussions with China’s Wang Yi and Defense Minister Li Shangfu during his trip amid tensions between the world’s two largest economies escalating over Ukraine, Taiwan, and trade restrictions.
High-profile diplomatic visits, like US President Kerry’s climate change talks and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent visit, aim to reestablish communication channels and address issues.
‘Impossible to contain China’
Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi told Henry Kissinger on Wednesday that it is “impossible to contain or encircle” China, hailing the former US secretary of state’s role in opening up relations between the two powers, AFP reported.
“China’s development has a strong endogenous momentum and inevitable historical logic, and it is impossible to try to transform China, and it is even more impossible to encircle and contain China,” Wang told the 100-year-old Kissinger in a meeting in Beijing, according to a foreign ministry statement.
Kissinger, then US national security adviser, secretly flew to Beijing in July 1971 on a mission to establish relations with communist China.
That trip set the stage for a landmark visit by president Richard Nixon, who sought both to shake up the Cold War and enlist help ending the Vietnam War.
Washington’s overtures to an isolated Beijing contributed to China’s rise to become a manufacturing powerhouse and the world’s largest economy after the United States.
Since leaving office, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kissinger has grown wealthy advising businesses on China — and has warned against a hawkish turn in US policy.
Hailing China’s “friendship established with old friends”, Wang on Wednesday praised Kissinger’s “historic contributions to the ice-breaking development of China-US relations”.
“China’s policy towards the United States maintains a high degree of continuity, and follows the fundamental guidelines proposed by President Xi Jinping, which are mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation,” Wang added.
“These three guidelines are fundamental and long-term, and they are also the right way for China and the United States, two big countries, to get along with each other,” China’s top diplomat said.
“The US policy toward China needs Kissinger-style diplomatic wisdom and Nixon-style political courage,” he added.
Kissinger met Tuesday in Beijing with Defence Minister Li Shangfu as part of a surprise visit to China.
“Kissinger said in today’s world, challenges and opportunities coexist, and both the United States and China should eliminate misunderstandings, coexist peacefully, and avoid confrontation,” state news agency Xinhua reported.
“He expressed the hope that both sides will exert wisdom, make every effort to create positive outcomes for the development of bilateral relations, and safeguard world peace and stability,” it added.
The elder statesman’s trip to China coincides with that of US climate envoy John Kerry, and follows recent visits by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. AFP
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