Xi Jinping Hosts Centennial Kissinger in Effort to Rekindle Sino-US Relations | International

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The centenary Henry Kissinger, one of the best-known American geopolitical strategists of the 20th century and a key player in the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between communist China and the United States in 1979, was received this Thursday by the President of the People's Republic, Xi Jinping. The meeting exudes symbolism on all four sides: it occurs while the two great world powers try to recover ties in a comatose state after having touched minimum levels in recent months. "We will never forget our old friend and his historic contribution to promoting the development of Sino-US relations," President Xi has told Kissinger.

The Chinese leader recalled during the meeting that the former US Secretary of State has just celebrated his centenary and also that he has visited China more than 100 times. "The combination of these two hundred makes his visit to China on this occasion have a special meaning," he confided, according to the official reading offered by Beijing. Kissinger has replied that the link between the two countries "is related to peace and world progress" and has promised to "continue making an effort to facilitate mutual understanding."

The meeting has been surrounded by an aura of nostalgia. The meeting took place in the same room of the Diaoyutai residence (where official visitors usually stay) where Kissinger met secretly with the communist leaders on his first visit to China in 1971. He was then National Security adviser. of President Richard Nixon and had received in the midst of the Cold War the highly complex task of articulating a rapprochement with the Asian country, whose rise, in the eyes of Washington, could act as a counterweight to the Soviet Union.

During a trip to Pakistan, Kissinger feigned illness and disappeared for 48 frantic hours, flying to Beijing to negotiate with then-Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, Mao Zedong's right-hand man, on architecture for Nixon's official visit to China. , the first by a US president since the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. “The confrontation made no sense to either side; that is why we were in Beijing”, writes Kissinger in the passionate passage dedicated to the meeting in his book in china (About China, 2011).

Xi recalled in the interview that moment when both countries "were at a crucial turning point", and how Mao, Zhou, Nixon and Kissinger, "with their extraordinary strategic vision, made the right decision", which contributed " benefits to both countries and changed the world.” That world, he added, is now facing a new crossroads that requires a new decision "by both parties on the way forward."

During those first contacts in the seventies, the so-called policy (for Washington) or principle (for Beijing) of "one China", the ambiguous verbal and diplomatic tightrope walk with which the relationship of both countries is maintained with respect to Taiwan. The self-governing island, which Beijing considers an inalienable part of its territory, is one of the critical points in the geopolitical struggle between the superpowers, "the core of China's main interests" and "where lies the future of the Chinese nation and the mission permanent history of the Communist Party", the country's leaders often repeat.

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The visit last summer to this enclave of the then president of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is at the origin of the disputes in recent months.

“Under the current circumstances, it is imperative to uphold the principles established by the Shanghai Communiqué [el primero firmado por Nixon y Mao en 1972, que reconoce la política en torno a Taiwán]appreciate the great importance that China attaches to the one-China principle and steer the relationship in a positive direction," Kissinger told Xi, according to the text released by Beijing.

The meeting with the president comes after two days of high-level meetings between Kissinger and other Chinese leaders. On Tuesday he met with Defense Minister Li Shangfu, whose inclusion on the blacklist of those sanctioned by Washington (in 2018, before being appointed minister in 2023) has made him one of the stumbling blocks in the reopening of communication channels. between China and the United States, broken last summer after the Taiwan crisis. Both powers "must eliminate misunderstandings, coexist peacefully and avoid confrontation," Kissinger told Li, according to Xinhua.

On Wednesday, the American held a face-to-face with the head of communist party diplomacy, Wang Yi, who acknowledged that he had "played an irreplaceable role in enhancing the mutual understanding of the two countries." His stay has partially coincided with that of the United States special envoy for climate, John Kerry, whose visit to Beijing has been the third by a senior US official in the last month, in an attempt to stop relations in free fall. . Ties managed to stabilize first with the trip of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in mid-June, followed by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen two weeks ago.

Although it is not an official visit —Kissinger has not held any position for years—, it does seem destined to bring about a rapprochement between the first and second largest economies in the world. The North American has advocated in numerous recent interventions for détente in the struggle between superpowers. “We are in the classic pre-World War I situation,” he stated in an interview in May in The Economist“in which neither party has much room for political concession and in which any alteration of the balance can have catastrophic consequences”.

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