US-China relations will never be what they once were: Kissinger

Kissinger disheartened by current state of US-China relations

Kissinger in Beijing speaking to Peking University students, Nov. 2018 (Image from Peking Univ.)

Kissinger in Beijing speaking to Peking University students, Nov. 2018 (Image from Peking Univ.)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, at 95 years old, made a visit to China last week where he met with several top communist party officials and was greeted as “an old friend of the Chinese people” by party Chairman Xi Jinping.

Several days after his visit ended, sources have reported that Kissinger privately lamented the current state of U.S.-China relations during a private dinner with some elder communist figures, and old friends of Kissinger’s.

“China-U.S. relations will never return to what they were. (Things) must be reoriented,” Kissinger was quoted by Chinese media Radio France International. (Original quote: 中美關係再也回不到過去了,要重新定位).

The remarks reportedly came on Kissinger’s last evening in Beijing during a meal with Mao Zedong’s former secretary Tang Wensheng (唐聞生), and an elder Communist Party statesman, Chen Yuan (陳元).

With every indication that the trade conflict between the two major powers is likely to escalate, Kissinger appears to be disheartened that the era of mutual cooperation and amicable relations have come to end.

Kissinger as Secretary of State under the Nixon administration was instrumental in helping establish stable relations between Washington and Beijing. He was likewise influential in the U.S. decision to drastically reduce support for Taiwan and its people, leading to Taiwan’s international exclusion.

Over the years, Kissinger developed friendships with every successive Communist Party Chairman of the autocratic state, while remaining an influential voice in U.S. politics for successive administrations in Washington through the Clinton and Bush Jr. administrations.

During his recent trip to Beijing, Kissinger not only met with party chairman Xi Jinping, Vice Premier Liu He, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his visit last week.

He also met with Deputy Chairman Wang Qishan on two occasions during his short trip, which has led journalists to suspect that the meeting likely pertained to matters far more serious than simple state-to-state courtesy.

RFI reports that during the course of his visit to China that Kissinger expressed the position that, even though U.S.–China relations will never return to how they were before Trump arrived in office, there was no need for relations to devolve into direct confrontation.

Kissinger said he believes the international situation is developing into a new paradigm. However, precisely what kind of paradigm is developing remains unclear.

In 2011, Henry Kissinger published “On China,” his critically acclaimed work on the development of U.S- China relations in the late-20th and early-21st century. In the book, he optimistically envisioned a partnership between Beijing and Washington based on “genuine strategic trust.”

Unfortunately, the actions and policies of Beijing over recent decades have led U.S.-China relations to the current impasse, with White House advisor Peter Navarro unequivocally declaring that there is “no basis for trust” in negotiations with Beijing.

As the Trump administration prepares to drastically escalate tariff penalties on Chinese goods at the start of the coming year, many are characterizing the upcoming G20 Summit in Argentina as Xi Jinping and his Chinese Communist Party’s last opportunity to persuade Trump and his administration to back down from further impacting China’s rapidly slowing economy.