China mourns 'old friend' Kissinger, who opened door to U.S. ties

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Thursday that President Xi Jinping and other top officials had sent messages of condolence to President Joe Biden, calling Kissinger “an old and dear friend of the Chinese people” and “a trailblazer.”

“Both China and the U.S. should inherit and carry forward Dr. Kissinger’s strategic vision, political courage, and diplomatic wisdom,” the ministry said.

Kissinger met with Xi only a few months ago, in a surprise visit to Beijing.

“We will never forget our old friend and your historic contribution to promoting the development of Sino-U.S. relations,” Xi said at the time.

In more than 100 visits to China over more than 50 years, Kissinger met all of its modern leaders: Mao, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi. He recounted his experiences in his 2011 book “On China.”

“I would say he had a somewhat mixed legacy,” said Ian Johnson, a senior fellow for China studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“On the one hand, he represented a nowadays useful realpolitik way of looking at China, which is to not get caught up in ideology but to look at China as a potentially useful partner in solving global challenges facing the United States,” he told NBC News.

“On the other hand, at times he let himself be used as a prop for Chinese leaders to show their public that they had good relations with the United States, while at the same time earning handsomely for trips to China.”

Xie Feng, the Chinese ambassador to the United States, said Kissinger’s death was a “tremendous loss” for both countries and the world.

“History will remember what the centenarian had contributed to China-U.S. relations, and he will always remain alive in the hearts of the Chinese people as a most valued old friend,” he said in a post on the social media platform X.

Kissinger’s death was briefly one of the top trending topics Thursday on Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform.


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