By Jesús Centeno
Beijing, Jul 20 (EFE).- The visit to China by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, welcomed by president Xi Jinping as a trusted “old friend,” is being viewed as a positive sign to help repair strained bilateral relations, although Beijing continues to insist that Washington change its policies.
In stark contrast to recent visits by US treasury secretary Janet Yellen or special envoy for climate change John Kerry, Kissinger, 100, was warmly received on Thursday by Xi.
The Chinese president did not meet face to face with either Yellen or Kerry during their Beijing trips, part of a flurry of diplomatic visits by US officials as Washington works to develop closer ties with China after years of growing distrust.
Xi hailed Kissinger’s visit, saying China “never forgets our old friends, nor your historic contributions to promoting the growth of China-U.S. relations and enhancing friendship between the two peoples,” according to Chinese state media.
Kissinger played a central role in helping reestablish relations between Washington and Beijing in the 1970s, when China re-emerged as an international power.
The US state department has insisted that Kissinger was visiting as a private citizen.
Xi met with Kissinger in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse – the same place where the former US secretary of state met Chinese officials more than 40 years ago – rather than in the Great Hall of the People where foreign diplomats are usually received.
The former US secretary of state thanked Xi for his hospitality and said healthy Sino-US relations were crucial to maintaining world peace.
Wang Yi, China’s highest ranking diplomat, said Kissinger had been “irreplaceable” in helping foster warm ties, and called for more US leaders to show his “wisdom”, according to the official Global Times.
“China’s development has a strong internal driving force and an inevitable historical logic. It is impossible to try to transform China, even more so to contain and suppress China,” Wang was reported as saying.
Kissinger’s trip to China comes with relations between the two powers at historic lows, although both sides appear to be making efforts to put them back on track after a year of bilateral tensions over the Taiwan issue and the trade war, among other matters.
Kissinger was National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under Richard Nixon (1969-1974) and Gerald Ford (1974-1977). EFE