Kissinger’s personal initiative in favor of relations between Washington and Beijing


The Chinese Ministry of Defense announced that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited Beijing to meet with Chinese Defense Minister Li Changfu. The significance of the visit of Henry Kissinger, the former National Security Adviser, comes from his role in bringing the Chinese-American views closer during the seventies when he traveled secretly to Beijing in July 1971, to prepare for the establishment of Sino-American relations, and to pave the way for the historic visit of former US President Nixon to the Chinese capital in  1972.  At the end of April 2023, the former US Secretary of State, Kissinger, warned at the Davos Forum that tensions with China are “the biggest problem for America, and the biggest problem for the world”, as there is a possibility of a “kind of cold war” between the two important countries.  Therefore, political leaders in Washington should grasp the trends of the times, follow the extraordinary courage of their predecessors, carry on their political wisdom and foresight to work with their Chinese counterparts, and navigate the two countries’ relations through the current turbulent waters. This is something that China welcomes across its political circles.

  Knowing that, the Chinese government rejected all US efforts to engage in high-level military contacts with China, as well as the Chinese Ministry of Defense’s refusal of a meeting between its Defense Minister Li Changfu and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Shangri-La Security Dialogue in Singapore this year.

  Of course, Kissinger returned to the huge strategic shift he made when he opened the door to positive relations between Washington and Beijing since the early 1970s, after attempts at rapprochement between them failed miserably, which Kissinger attributed to each party’s adherence to objectives rejected by the other.  According to his words, “The American people needed a vision of peace in the relationship with Beijing”, analyzing that the pressure exerted by Russia to prevent rapprochement between Beijing and Washington is one of the reasons for the tension.  Kissinger also recorded a word for history for the Chinese, by asserting that: “during half a century, Taiwan developed economically and politically, under peace with China, without the United States adopting the existence of an independent state in Taiwan”, which is a statement welcomed by China.

  According to the Chinese coverage of Kissinger’s visit to China, he was viewed as a “friend of China” and was described as having played a key role in the US rapprochement with China while serving as a national security advisor under the Nixon administration. And that: “the United States and China should eliminate misunderstanding, peaceful coexistence, and avoid confrontation between them”.  Kissinger’s current and contested trip to China during the 1970s has been codenamed Marco Polo, meaning: his mission was as unknown and unpredictable as an incomprehensible adventure. The official Chinese press focused on Kissinger’s words, that “if the two countries go to war, it will not lead to any results that achieve the goals of their people”, and that neither the United States of America nor China can deal with each other as an adversary. The analysis of the “Global Times” newspaper, which is close to the ruling Communist Party in China, came to Kissinger’s visit, emphasizing his desire to restore Sino-American relations, and encouraging Americans to “work for world stability and a broader understanding of other countries such as China”.

 Knowing that the administration of President “Biden” is aware of Kissinger’s visit to China, and that Chinese officials discussed the matter with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken while he was in Beijing last June. But, other American circles emphasized that Kissinger went to China as a private citizen.  Kissinger’s personal initiative to visit China comes to try to ease tensions between the two sides, following the imposition of sanctions on a number of US defense officials because of their relations with Taiwan and the increase in US arms sales to Taiwan, and the extension of those Chinese sanctions to include officials of the Reagan Presidential Library due to hosting the Taiwanese president this year, which is what  Provoked China and its ruling Communist Party. Here came the assertion of China’s chief foreign relations official, former Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during his meeting with Henry Kissinger, that “encircling and containing China is impossible”, with China’s rejection of the principle of ideological confrontation and the geopolitical struggle that Washington is pursuing in confronting it, which is summed up in your victory and my loss.

   And the Chinese official comments came during the period of Kissinger’s visit to China, that it is disturbing that the zero-sum Cold War mentality and its sovereignty in Washington is dominated by a group of Washington politicians that is poisoning relations between China and the United States of America.  Especially with the growing paranoia among Americans to portray China as a serious threat to US national security, which hindered mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries, and damaged their bilateral relationship around the world.  In addition to the escalation of tensions in their relations, which harmed much-needed global cooperation in facing a range of global challenges.

   Here, the authors of the book “The Dangerous Zone” about the rise of China in the face of the United States of America say that China’s progress has reached its limit, and they even called their theory about the rise and development of China “China at the peak”, and that the country has become very dangerous, given that it has become strong  It is very capable of confusing the entire international system, as well as China’s violent and unprecedented reaction to the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan at the end of 2022, as it surrounded and isolated Taiwan, and conducted intensive military maneuvers around the island. As well as its sharp reaction to the European Union’s suspension of the investment treaty in China, when it imposed sanctions on European officials and European institutions. Therefore, it is not in the interest of the West to weaken China, because it is a huge human and economic power, and if pressure increases on it, it may resort to military force in order to maintain its position in the world.

  Hence, we understand that strong China does not fear any country in the world, because it has confidence in its ability to protect its interests, but weak China seeks to prove its strength in various ways, including exceptional and severe measures.  This is what fear the Westerners in general, and the Americans in particular.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit


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