Rama Krishna Sangem
Many of us may have heard about former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. In contemporary world politics, he is considered modern Chanakya. Most of political science scholars, diplomats and geopolitical experts quote him with respect and observance. You know what? He celebrated his 100th birthday two months ago, he was born on May 27,1923.
Most of us can’t think of doing any work at this ripe age, but Kissinger chose to travel to China for one more time – this is his 100th visit to Beijing. That is his professional commitment and strength of personality. Interestingly, his visit to China is not a tourist purpose. Kissinger was received by none other than Chinese president Xi Jinping and accorded a royal welcome usually reserved for serving diplomats.
Xi described Kissinger as true friend of China and that the communist country would never forget its true friends. Xi hasn’t said that without a reason. If there is any living diplomat who met Chinese two leaders Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, that is Kissinger. After negotiating ceasefire in Vietnam war, Kissinger realized the importance of US opening up to China, as a counterbalance to then Soviet Union.,Cold War rival.
Who’s Kissinger, what’s his specialty?
Kissinger won Nobel peace prize in 1973 for his efforts to bring a ceasefire in Vietnam war which damaged the morale and resources of the US very badly. He won this prestigious prize in association with Vietnamese communist leader Le Duc Tho. However, Tho refused to accept the prize while Kissinger too didn’t attend the ceremony to receive the prize. He donated the prize money to a charity.
Being a Republican, Kissinger always believed in pragmatism, accepting the hard realities than hanging on to beliefs and theories. He is born in a Jewish family from Germany that migrated to the US when he was eight years. He came up on his own by shining in studies and hard work in politics. He worked as Secretary of State with two presidents – Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, from 1972 to 77.
He also worked as National Security Adviser of the US from 1969 to 75. Because of his intense engagement in those days with Soviet Union and Cold War imperatives, Kissinger is known for his shrewd operations. Of course, we in India hated him for his role in Bangladesh war in 1972 when the US supported Pakistan. But, sources close to him say, Kissinger liked India as a strong democracy. His objection with India is its closeness to Soviet Union.
Why China loves him?
Kissinger is loved by China’s communist leaders. This is because of his acceptance that Taiwan is part of China and at one stage readied to pull out American troops from Taiwan. Of course, later the US went back on this promise due to many developments. Chinese leadership have no grudge against Kissinger. Kissinger first went to China in July 1971. That was a secret visit. Later, he went in October the same year, and met Chairman Mao, openly.
Chinese believe because of Kissinger’s visits to their country since then, the communist regime was able to understand the potential of opening up to the West in general and the US in particular. Though Mao was not a great admirer of the US, his successors Deng Xiaoping later took a cue from Kissinger’s diplomacy and hugged liberalization in late 1970s. Later China joined WTO and other multilateral economic bodies.
The current visit of Kissinger may not have any political significance as he is a Republican and a 100 plus retired diplomat. But, his visit gives a direction to American leadership not to completely ignore China. Today, China is world’s No 2 economy and an aspiring superpower. This visit will also cool down the rising tensions between the US and China for the last few years.