Home World News Kissinger Makes Surprise Visit to China, Meets Defense Minister

Kissinger Makes Surprise Visit to China, Meets Defense Minister

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Kissinger Makes Surprise Visit to China, Meets Defense Minister

Henry A. Kissinger, the 100-year-old former secretary of state who has pushed the United States to take a more conciliatory approach to China, has made a surprise visit to Beijing, meeting with China’s defense minister.

The previously unannounced trip by Mr. Kissinger, who more than 50 years ago helped pave the way for diplomatic ties between the United States and China during President Richard M. Nixon’s administration, coincided with a string of visits by currently serving American officials to China.

On Tuesday, the day that Mr. Kissinger met with Li Shangfu, the defense minister, President Biden’s climate change envoy, John Kerry, met with the Chinese premier and top foreign policy official. In recent weeks, the current secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, and the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, have also traveled to Beijing to try and stabilize U.S.-China relations.

But while those officials met with varying levels of chilliness or scolding from Chinese officials or state media, reflecting the geopolitical tensions, the defense ministry’s description of the meeting with Mr. Kissinger was warmer. The fact that Mr. Kissinger met with Mr. Li at all was notable: China last month rebuffed a request for Mr. Li to meet the U.S. defense minister, Lloyd Austin, at a summit in Singapore. (China blamed the refusal on U.S. sanctions on Mr. Li.)

During Mr. Blinken’s visit last month, Chinese officials again rejected a request to reopen direct channels of military-to-military communications.

Meeting with Mr. Kissinger, Mr. Li said he hoped the United States would work with China to promote the “healthy, stable development of the relationship between the two countries and the two militaries,” according to the defense ministry’s statement.

Mr. Li also criticized “some people in the United States” for “not meeting China halfway,” noting that the atmosphere for friendly communication had been “destroyed.”

Mr. Kissinger, the defense ministry said, had said he was “here as a friend of China,” and that the two countries should “eliminate misunderstandings, coexist peacefully and avoid confrontation.”

It was not immediately clear how long Mr. Kissinger would be in Beijing or whether he would meet with other officials, including China’s leader, Xi Jinping. Mr. Xi and Mr. Kissinger met in Beijing in 2019, when Mr. Xi told Mr. Kissinger that he hoped he would “enjoy many more healthy years ahead and continue to be a promoter of and contributor to Sino-U.S. relations,” according to Xinhua, China’s state news agency.

Chinese state media has long showered Mr. Kissinger with praise, especially as a foil to the more aggressive stances toward Beijing taken by recent American presidential administrations.

In an article in May, for Mr. Kissinger’s 100th birthday, the Global Times, a nationalistic party-run tabloid, said Mr. Kissinger was “legendary,” and “still keeps his great mind razor-sharp on U.S.-China relations by explicitly warning Washington” against an adversarial relationship.

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