Kissinger on the Sino-US relations

By Imran Khalid | Gwadar Pro Jun 9, 2023

Editor's Note: The writer is a freelance columnist on international affairs based in Karachi, Pakistan. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.

On the momentous occasion of Henry Kissinger's 100th birthday (May 27), the sagacious statesman still continues to divulge his astute observations on the complex realm of US-China relations. With unwavering acuity, Kissinger keeps on pensively advising Washington to eschew hasty adversarial tendencies and engage in thoughtful dialogue—a course vital for the betterment of humanity.

In a recent interview with the Economist, published on May 17, Henry Kissinger provided astute insights and cautionary advice on several critical global issues. With a measured perspective, he emphasized the imperative of effectively managing the potential risks of a conflict between China and the United States. Expressing deep concern, Kissinger revealed his alarm at the escalating technological and economic rivalry between China and the United States. He said, "We're in the classic pre-world war one situation where neither side has much margin of political concession and in which any disturbance of the equilibrium can lead to catastrophic consequences.”

Similarly, during his other recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Kissinger asserted that "to prevent war with China, the US needs to refrain from being heedlessly adversarial and pursue dialogue instead." Recognizing the gravity of the situation, he highlighted the intensifying competition between the two nations, stressing the need for careful consideration and strategic foresight. Kissinger's apprehension underscores the significance of managing this delicate dynamic to ensure stability and cooperation in the global arena.

But there are somber apprehensions regarding the Biden administration's disposition towards heeding the sage counsel of this venerable centenarian.

In the case of China, Kissinger eloquently articulates that American officials often misinterpret China's intentions, mistakenly assuming a desire for world domination and hegemony. Kissinger dispels this notion, explaining that China seeks strength and influence, rather than an iniquitous pursuit of global hegemony. Such a perspective provides crucial insights into China's mindset and its approach to shaping the world order. Kissinger's nuanced understanding underscores the importance of engaging in dialogue and developing an empathetic comprehension of China's motivations. His discerning perspective serves as a timely reminder that the true gains from avoiding wars far outweigh the fleeting benefits they may appear to offer.

Regrettably, some American politicians have fallen prey to a myopic approach, viewing the world through the lens of zero-sum games with perceived ideological adversaries. This narrow perspective has resulted in the politicization of US-China relations, with China being unfairly scapegoated for a multitude of domestic challenges.

It is crucial for US policymakers to heed Kissinger's wisdom and adopt a long-term perspective in shaping their foreign strategy. They must recognize that Sino-US relations hold tremendous global significance and should be approached with the utmost responsibility. Rather than fostering confrontation, the emphasis should be placed on nurturing peace and stability between these two influential nations.

Partisan politics have undeniably hijacked the US' China policy, undermining the potential for constructive engagement and cooperation. By abandoning ideological tunnel vision and embracing a pragmatic mindset, American politicians can better grasp the evolving dynamics of international relations. They should prioritize the interests of their country while recognizing that collaboration, rather than conflict, is the pathway to progress in the interconnected world we inhabit.

Kissinger’s words serves as a guiding light, reminding us of the transformative power of dialogue, understanding, and respect. Safeguarding peace and stability in Sino-US relations must take precedence over the shortsighted pursuits of partisan agendas. Only by embracing a responsible and balanced approach can the United States hope to contribute positively to the global stage and forge a mutually beneficial relationship with China.

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