Chinese leader Xi Jinping hailed former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger as an “old friend” as the two met in Beijing yesterday.
Kissinger’s visit to China this week has seen him call for a rapprochement between Washington and Beijing, which remain at loggerheads over a range of issues, from human rights to trade and national security.
The 100-year-old diplomat was central to the United States establishing ties with communist China in the 1970s and has maintained close contact with the country’s leaders over the years.
“Chinese people value friendship, and we will never forget our old friend and your historic contribution to promoting the development of China-US relations and enhancing the friendship between the Chinese and American peoples,” President Xi told Kissinger on Thursday, according to state media.
“This not only benefited the two countries, but also changed the world,” Xi added.
“The world is currently experiencing changes not seen in a century, and the international order is undergoing enormous change,” the Chinese leader said.
“China and the United States are once more at a crossroads, and both sides must once again make a choice.”
Kissinger, in response, thanked Xi for hosting him at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse’s building number five — where he met with then premier Zhou Enlai in 1971.
“The relations between our two countries will be central to the peace in the world and to the progress of our societies,” the former diplomat said.
Kissinger secretly flew to Beijing in 1971 on a mission to establish relations with communist China.
The trip set the stage for a landmark visit by former US president Richard Nixon, who sought both to shake up the Cold War and enlist help in ending the Vietnam War.
Washington’s overtures to an isolated Beijing contributed to China’s rise to become a manufacturing powerhouse and the world’s second-largest economy.