Meeting with former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger in Beijing on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that 52 years ago when the world was at a critical juncture, Chairman Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou Enlai, US President Richard Nixon and Kissinger himself, had made the right decision to initiate the normalization of China-US ties.
It was a momentous and courageous decision that has not only benefited the two countries but also changed the world. Looking back on the more than half a century of meaningful, reciprocal interaction between the two countries since then, China and the US should draw inspiration from that breaking of the ice.
Kissinger has visited China more than 100 times over the past 52 years, and is widely perceived in China to be an old friend of the Chinese people who has made historic contributions to the development of Sino-US relations. The Joe Biden administration should take a leaf out of his book.
Kissinger’s informal visit coincides with an official visit to Beijing by Biden’s top climate envoy John Kerry. Kerry is the third senior Biden administration official to travel to China in a month following US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Such an intensive series of high-profile visits are indicative of the two sides’ mutual desire for contacts and communication.
Yet, given the current fragile nature of China-US relations, contacts and communication are not enough on their own to bolster ties. Although Washington has supposedly changed its approach from “decoupling” to “de-risking,” it continues to suppress China on many fronts, including economic and geopolitical.
Prior to Kerry’s visit, the White House was reportedly planning further restrictions on US investments in China. And the US has never ceased making provocative moves to pressure Beijing on its core interests, such as the Taiwan question. As such, no matter how many envoys Washington sends to Beijing, unless it changes its ways, there can be no substantial or sustained upturn in relations.
The US should cast aside the delusion that it can exert strategic and economic pressure on China at will while counting on China’s cooperation on issues of Washington’s choosing. To arrest the deterioration in their relations, both sides need to make concrete efforts to build trust and translate goodwill into deeds.
China and the United States are once more at a crossroad, and both sides must once again make a choice, Xi told Kissinger. The choices they make will be of profound significance, not only for the two countries, but for the world.
Editorial, China Daily