Kissinger: US, China should seize chances to cooperate

Updated: 2015-03-27 10:11

By SU ZHOU(China Daily USA)

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Kissinger: US, China should seize chances to cooperate

Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State

BEIJING - The first stop for former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's secret trip to China in 1971 was the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, exactly the same location when he attended the China Development Forum 2015 Economic Summit on March 21, nearly 44 years later.

The 91-year-old veteran US diplomat has known all the Chinese supreme leaders since Mao Zedong. Over four decades, Kissinger has been a key envoy working to strengthen the sometimes-troubled relationship. On March 17, when President Xi Jinping met Kissinger, he recognized him as a "trailblazer of this relationship" and said Kissinger will always be warmly welcome in China.

Just like his first visit, Kissinger came to China - six months before Xi's first state visit to the United States - on another starting point between China and the US, when the two largest economies in the world are trying to build a new model of major-country relations featuring no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

Kissinger believed that the foundation has been laid since 1972 and continued afterwards. In 2012, the 40th anniversary of Nixon's historic visit to China, Kissinger said, "It started a process which has lasted, and grown, through eight American presidents and four generations of Chinese leaders."

And it continues. In discussing Xi's upcoming state visit, Kissinger told Caixin, a financial and business magazine based in Beijing, that "it contributes enormously to the continuity of Chinese-American relations to see that the foreign policy…is now being carried on toward the end of the current administration and I am sure it will be supported in the new administration."

"When I came here over 40 years ago, we were dealing with common dangers. Now we are dealing with common opportunities," said Kissinger during the talk with vice- foreign minister Zhang Yesui on March 21. "The main challenge we face is to recognize the importance of cooperation to deal with day-to-day problems co-efficiently and very long range objectives."

Kissinger said the international landscape has shifted quickly in the past decades. At the end of the World War II, the Atlantic was the center of the world, and now every continent matters and influences the rest of the world. The international community is also facing emerging challenges such as cyber security.

"The two world powers need to think about doing something together rather than taking advantage over the other," he said. "The most important thing for China and the US is to seize cooperation opportunities and then influence the whole international system."

Ni Feng, a researcher on American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the new model of major-country relations has been brought up when China is growing very fast.

"Despite the fact that the United States is still the only superpower in the world, the fast-developing China has raised doubts and concerns in the world, especially from the United States," said Ni. "Overseas scholars have warned China and US about falling into the Thucydides Trap, which yawns wide because of the dangers the two parties face when a rising power rivals a ruling power. Most such challenges have ended in war."

Kissinger also made this point when talking with Caixin, saying that "China is bound to rise despite some down periods, and its influence will make the US feel uneasy in certain regards".

However, Kissinger said military means doesn't work nowadays. "None of the leaders who started the First World War would have done so had they known what the end would look like."

"The 21st Century's most significant issues are global in nature. These are not issues the resolution of which is one country wins and another loses. They can be addressed successfully only through US-China consultation and cooperation.

"And it is in this context that the United States and China have an opportunity to explore a new direction together, beyond traditional forms of great-power rivalry."

Fu Mengzi, vice-president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said frictions are inevitable when the two countries move closer and Beijing wants to make its stances clear through various channels, including the meeting of President Xi with Kissinger, who enjoys influence in Washington.

Kissinger said it was possible for Mao and Nixon to discuss long-term projects and shared common visions together when they first met, because there was no bilateral relation at all.

However, with China developing fast, bilateral exchange becoming more frequent, and fear rising that one is trying to challenge the other, now it is getting harder to achieve progress in cooperation, added Kissinger.

Kissinger said a lot of countries will disagree with others, and China and the US could be competitors for a long time, and many would like to see the two countries have conflicts, but they should be more focused on common interest.

Ni Feng from the CASS said both sides are still exploring how to put the new model of major-country relations in action.

"It is still not sure how this goal will be achieved, but one thing for sure is that both sides want cooperation instead of the opposite," said Ni.

"In the first half of 2014, we saw frictions growing because the gap between China and the US keeps narrowing. The possibility of having conflict was larger than before. So it became more urgent than ever to push forward the new model of major-country relations between China and the United States," added Ni.

"In the second half of 2014, we felt that both sides were trying to create a cooperation atmosphere which would provide space for both sides to do more things together."