What does China’s courteous reception of Kissinger indicate?: Global Times editorial
Published: Jul 22, 2023 12:30 AM
Chinese President Xi Jinping talks with visiting former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger in Beijing on July 20, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping talks with visiting former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger in Beijing on July 20, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

China's "old friend" Henry Kissinger was warmly welcomed by the Chinese side. As a private citizen, he was given the grandest reception at the official level. Chinese President Xi Jinping met him at Villa No.5 of the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where then premier Zhou Enlai held a meeting with Kissinger 52 years ago when the latter visited China for the first time. Kissinger was also received by Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee Wang Yi and Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu. Kissinger's visit became a trending topic on China's social media. Netizens welcomed him and expressed respect for his contribution to China-US relations.

Judging from Kissinger's previous interviews and speeches, he has real concerns about the current development trend of China-US relations. Presumably, this is why he insists on visiting China at such an age. The Chinese people know that it is not easy for a centenarian to travel from afar for the sake of China-US relations, and feel deeply about his efforts. However, in the US, the White House expressed regret that Kissinger was able to get more of an audience in Beijing as a private citizen than some sitting US officials, and some analysts and media say that Beijing is playing the "old friend" card and wooing those who might help change opinions in Washington, and some even claim that this "looks very much like a deliberate Chinese strategy."

In the eyes of the Chinese, these claims are extremely naive and ridiculous. Why could "a citizen" surpass sitting officials in Washington and receive higher courtesy and greater respect? Doesn't Washington have a point in mind? In recent years, pragmatism and rationality toward China has been severely marginalized in the US. Washington's China policy often drifts and collides under the countercurrent of extreme protectionism and resentment of all kinds, and the room for maneuver in China-US relations has been greatly reduced. At the age of 100, Kissinger still plays a prominent role in promoting the stability of China-US relations and avoiding conflicts. It shows that the diplomatic wisdom of the US has no successors, and that there is a lack of sound communication channels between China and the US.

Kissinger is an old friend of the Chinese people. The word "old" first pays tribute to the long history of China-US relations, of which he has been a participant and witness. Secondly, it shows respect for his continuous attention and concern for China-US relations, and his hope for peaceful coexistence between the two countries. In the eyes of the Chinese people, as long as someone is reasonable and holds goodwill and sincerity toward China, they are considered a friend, and if the relationship lasts for a long time, they become an old friend. Over the past few decades, Kissinger has visited China over 100 times and has always been treated with friendship, regardless of his changing roles or positions. The reception China has given him is the consistent manifestation of deep feelings, an emphasis on righteousness and respect for wisdom.

However, some people in the US deliberately misinterpret the term "old friend," and some even call it a trap. This reflects the unhealthy mindset of American society toward China and the lack of mutual trust between China and the US. It is essential to emphasize that the friendliness and friendship China shows to Kissinger are not only for him as an individual, but also for all the insightful individuals who have played a constructive role in China-US relations. We hope to extend the goodwill and sincere cooperation even wider and also hope that rationality can become the dominant factor in the US decision-making process, and through these old friends to convey goodwill and sincerity of cooperation to the American people.

The importance of communication in China-US relations is irreplaceable. Genuine communication requires respecting reality and each other's interests, rather than forcing one side to unconditionally accept hegemony. Kissinger is a staunch defender of American interests, but he understands that the US cannot simply equate US interests with world interests. His decades of engagement with China have fully demonstrated that mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation are not only feasible but also the only correct path. In recent years, Kissinger has repeatedly issued warnings about the dangerous trend in the relationship between the two countries. This is based on his political insight gained from more than half a century of experience and theoretical research, and deserves Washington's attention.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, said on Thursday that the administration officials "look forward to hearing from Secretary Kissinger when he returns, to hear what he heard, what he learned, what he saw." We hope that Washington will humbly and sincerely listen to the advice brought back by this centenarian elder.