July 20, 2023: On Tuesday, a former U.S. secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, satisfied with China’s defense minister, Li Shangfu, in Beijing, the ministry said in a statement.
During the surprise visit, Kissinger said he was a friend of China and encouraged both governments to cooperate more closely, according to the statement.
“The United States and China should stop misunderstandings, coexist peacefully, and avoid conflict. History and practice have continually proved that neither the United States nor China can afford to treat the other as an adversary,” Kissinger said, according to a Reuters translation.
Without naming names, Li said that “some people in the U.S.” had previously failed to meet China center, causing Sino-U.S. relations to fall to their lowest point.
Kissinger’s appointment with Li arrives as John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, is also in Beijing for climate talks.
Kerry’s trip to China pursues those of U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the previous several weeks.
Blinken said he failed to restore military talks with China in his stay in June.
Diplomatic relations between the two global powers have grown increasingly fractured over recent months amid a string of tit-for-tat tech sector trade caps and increased tensions around the Taiwan Strait. Li and his U.S. defense counterpart have not spoken officially despite the security concerns.
Kissinger’s visit comes almost exactly 52 years after his secret visit to Beijing in July 1971, which paved the way for then-U.S. President Richard Nixon to normalize relations between the U.S. and Mao Zedong’s China.
More than half a century on, the 100-year-old remains broadly revered in China. In a May article in China’s Global Times newspaper, Kissinger’s contributions to U.S.-China relations were cited as one of his “career highlights.”