It is a traditional virtue of the Chinese people to respect the elderly and admire the virtuous. Statistics show that people rarely live up to one hundred years old, hence called Renrui (human treasure). Dr. Alfred Kissinger celebrates his 100th birthday this year, and many birthday celebrations were held in his honor both in the United States and China. Kissinger had personally participated in some, and even gave speeches and interviews. His remarks, especially on Sino-US relations, were earnest and heartfelt. He isad that the relationship had deteriorated and the policy direction was wrong. It is worth our deep thinking about the remarks of this wise man. The author with deep respect writes this article about Kissinger and U.S.-China relations to commemorate and celebrate his centennial birthday.
Kissinger is a Republican. President Nixon promoted him to be the Secretary of State. He and Nixon can be said to have changed the history of Sino-US relations. China has been impoverished by invasions and treaties of inequalities for many years. After World War II, China was devastated with everything in ruins waiting to be rebuilt. Because of foreign interference, reuniting the two competing governments separated by the Taiwan Strait was difficult. Mainland China hopes to develop normally to return to prosperity for its people, and it will certainly help if it is recognized by the United States. Kissinger-Nixon conceived the idea of allying China to fight against Russia and the Soviet Communists). Kissinger secretly planned and went to China with tireless effort in negotiating a joint agreement. The final joint statement, the so-called Three Communiqués, was not easy to come by. Understandably, the Chinese people appreciate and remember Kissinger.
Nixon resigned in disgrace due to the Watergate incident, but Kissinger was able to stay in the post to help Republican President Ford stabilize the progress of normalizing the relationship between the United States and China towards mutual diplomatic recognition. In the end, President Carter of the Democratic Party completed the task of establishing of diplomatic relations in 1979, severing relations with Taiwan and any defense relationship. Thus, the U.S. officially implemented its policy of allying with China and targeting Russia and the Soviet Union.
The relationship between China and the United States was complicated before and since World War II. The United States had adopted a policy of anti-communism, designated mainland China, ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as a communist and an authoritarian government, and continued to support the Kuomintang (KMT) government in Taiwan. The Korean War had created deeper hostility between the United States and China and an alliance in war supply between the United States and Taiwan. The Korean War (in which China assisted North Korea out of fear that the U.S.-led Allies would run over the entire peninsula into China) ended without a peace agreement. The animosity between the United States and China continued until the Vietnam War. Nixon-Kissinger recognized the cruel reality, made policy changes, sought peace with China, and thus contemplated the establishment of diplomatic relations.
After the mutual diplomatic recognition between China and the United States, it brought a honeymoon period. China was able to keep a low key, work hard in nation-building, develop its economy, and then reform, open up, learn from good and eliminate bad, and innovate. Twenty-plus years of golden age later has made China's economy the second largest in the world. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been separated and co-existed for decades without war, and Taiwan's economy had also become one of the four Asian tigers thanks to the hard work of its people. Entering the 21st century, the two sides of the strait have lived in peace and once even enjoyed harmonious trade and rich exchanges of civilian activities.
In 1990, the United States won the Cold War, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the United States became the sole world power, moving towards a clear hegemony openly. During the Vietnam War, the United States acted in the name of fighting for democracy and freedom. After the end of the Cold War, wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan had become blatant acts of hegemony. The U.S. hegemony behavior persisted even after seeing the rapid rise of China with a somewhat uneasy feeling..
Entering the 21st century, China has maintained rapid economic growth, and the United States has begun to pay attention to Asia, return to Asia-Pacific, and encircle China. The two parties in the United States adopt the same goal in China policy, and regard China as the biggest threat and the scapegoat for the decline of U.S. world status. Regardless of which party is in power, the resistance to China remains unchanged. At the beginning of the century, President Bush of the Republican Party had to focus on terrorism prevention because of the terrorist organization's attack in the United States. During the period of Democratic President Obama, he clearly announced his return to the Asia-Pacific strategy for targeting China. Later, Republican President Trump and Democratic President Biden both increased their anti-China plots and tactics due to domestic political sentiments and needs.
In the political arena, people who are over 70 years old are regarded as at the end of their strength, and those who are 80 years old are bound to fall on the sidewalks. Republican Kissinger is no exception. During Trump's tenure (2017-2021), he hardly paid any attention to Kissinger, although Kissinger was still clear-headed about international affairs and often expressed his opinions. When the Democratic Biden took office in 2021, he completely filled his cabinet offices with staff who served or associated with the Obama-Biden era, such as Blinken and Sullivan. Their experience about China was far below that of Kissinger, it should not surprise us that the relationship between China and the United States would be mismanaged to a freezing point.
Kissinger has spent a lot of effort in the ‘ice-melting’ interactions between the United States and China; and earned a deep understanding of China. The process of creation and signing of the Three Joint Communiqués between China and the United States naturally gave a deep impression to Kissinger. So, he knows that Taiwan is the core issue of mainland China-untouchable by foreign country, unification of Taiwan is an national policy, and Taiwan independence is an unthinkable idea. Therefore, Dr. Kissinger has repeatedly warned those in power to be careful in handling cross-strait issues. As a realistic politician, he naturally knows the present extent of China's rise, but he is an American after all, and he will put American interests first in considering international affairs. Therefore, he is distressed that the current group of young political technocrats under the old politician Biden’s antiquated thinking and leadership are taking an extremely dangerous path leading the U.S. to peril. The danger comes from the fact that the politicians are all shouting: We love the U.S. and America First but what they do are not really favorable to the U.S.
I sincerely hope that the politicians especially the policy makers in the United States can listen to Dr. Kissinger’s warning words, rein in the faulty precipice, and cooperate with China to practice anti-hegemonism, not hegemonies, so as to achieve common prosperity for mankind!