China hails ‘good old friend’ Henry Kissinger, who visited country over 100 times
By Michelle De Pacina
November 30, 2023
Chinese officials and state media are mourning the death of Henry Kissinger, the American diplomat known for his pivotal role in the U.S.-China rapprochement in the early 1970s.
Recognizing the diplomat: Kissinger, who visited Beijing in July, received condolences from state media China Central Television, which praised him as a “legendary diplomat” and a witness to the China-U.S. relations’ development. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping called him a “world-renowned strategist” and a “good old friend.”
“Half a century ago, he made a historic contribution to the normalization of China-U.S. relations with brilliant strategic vision, benefiting both countries as well as changing the world,” Xi said, according to The Washington Post.
Despite concerns about changing views in Washington, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin emphasized the need for Beijing and Washington to uphold and advance Kissinger’s strategic vision, political bravery and diplomatic wisdom, fostering a “healthy, stable and sustainable development of Sino-U.S. relations.”
About Kissinger: Kissinger, a German-born Jewish refugee, died at the age of 100 at his home in Connecticut on Wednesday. As of press time, the cause of his death has not been made public.
The diplomat rose to prominence during the 1970s as national security adviser and secretary of state under former Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He played a crucial role in various diplomatic initiatives, including the U.S. opening with China, arms control talks with the Soviet Union, improved relations between Israel and Arab nations and the Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam.
Kissinger’s extensive visits to China, totaling at least 100 times, earned him recognition as a heavyweight American diplomat. His significant contributions also earned him the moniker “old friend of the Chinese people.” His deep understanding of China remains influential, as seen in the widespread reading of his book “On China” among Chinese scholars and students.
However, many have also criticized and branded Kissinger as a war criminal for supporting anti-communist dictatorships, particularly in Latin America. He was awarded the 1973 Peace Prize for ending U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, but this sparked controversy due to questions about the secret U.S. bombing of Cambodia and led to resignations from two Nobel committee members.
Reactions: The news of Kissinger’s death flooded Weibo. Discussions reached a combined view count of 660 million within four hours of the announcement, making him the platform’s top trending topic.
Meanwhile, Chinese commentators on platforms like Xiaohongshu have posted glowing tributes, emphasizing the poetic sentiment of “old friends are dying, like leaves in the wind.” This draws a parallel to ancient Chinese warlord Cao Cao’s supposed respect for his enemy, Guan Yu, at Guan Yu’s tomb. This analogy also mirrors how China traditionally views Kissinger: as a formidable representative of a rival power who facilitated mutual benefits.
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