(Beijing) Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Beijing on Thursday, hailed by state media as a “legendary diplomat” for bringing China and the US closer together in the 1970s.
Chinese state television reported at a time when relations between the two countries are at an all-time low, despite a recent series of diplomatic missions from the United States.
Recently turned 100, Henry Kissinger secretly traveled to Beijing in July 1971 to build relations with Communist China, paving the way for President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing in 1972.
This outstretched hand to China ended the isolation of the Asian giant and contributed to Beijing’s rise, first economically, on the world stage.
“The Chinese people value friendship, and we will never forget our old friend and your historic contribution to improving Sino-US relations and strengthening the friendship between the Chinese and American peoples,” President Xi told Kissinger on Thursday, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
“It has not only benefited both countries, but also changed the world,” Xi added.
He also told her that “Sino-US relations will always be associated with the name Kissinger, and the Chinese people will always remember you.”
CCTV reported that the former US secretary of state was welcomed at the Chinese government’s state villa in Beijing, Daoyudai, in the same room where he worked for rapprochement with China 50 years ago.
For this symbolic act, Mr. Kissinger thanked.
He added that “the relations between our two countries will be crucial for world peace and progress of our societies”.
“Since 1971, Mr. Kissinger has visited China more than 100 times,” state television said Thursday.
“On May 27, the legendary diplomat celebrated his 100th yeare anniversary, and this visit to China is the first since he turned 100,” he added.
Henry Kissinger met Wang Yi, the senior Chinese official for diplomacy, earlier in the day.
The latter specifically thanked him for his “historic contribution to the weakening of relations between China and the United States”.
“American policy toward China requires diplomatic wisdom a la Kissinger and political courage a la Nixon,” Wang Yi assured his guest.
While the Asian giant is now the world’s second-largest economy, it is “impossible to surround or contain” China, the Chinese official insisted.
On Tuesday, the former foreign minister met Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu, who is under US sanctions.
During this interview, Mr.
Nobel Peace Prize Winner Mr. Kissinger stayed out of politics and made his fortune advising companies investing in China. He also warned against hardening US policy towards Beijing.
His visit to China comes after visits by senior US officials such as US Climate Ambassador John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
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