Opinion | President Xi Jinping is for world peace - China seized the death of Kissinger to deliver Its message
By Augustus K. Yeung
The New York Times' reporting on the death of Mr. Henry Kissinger was utterly thorough, sentimental and grateful in the ways China expressed its respect, gratitude and accolade toward "an old friend of China".
From President Xi Jinping and his cabinet colleagues to the media, and the Chinese people on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, they wrote to their counterparts in the U.S. each extolling the virtues of an American giant – who gave his all to the task of building a tall and towering bridge – between China and the U.S.
Readers are sentimentally swept off their feet, getting the impression and the feel that the entire nation was out "mourning" the death of Dr. Kissinger – who (at the age of 100) cared enough about the U.S.-China relations to fragilely come and pay his visit.
The following is the abridged article, reporting the passing of a former U.S. Secretary of State, known to the Chinese people as "Dr. Henry Kissinger".
State media outlets hailed him as "China's old friend." On Chinese social media, people said his death marked the end of an era. They recalled his last visit to the country, in July, at age 100.
For many in China, Henry Kissinger represented a now-bygone chapter in relations between China and the United States, when the countries seemed to be moving inexorably closer.
Across Chinese state media, remembrances of Mr. Kissinger highlighted his role in organizing President Nixon's pathbreaking trip to China in 1972 and advocacy over the past half-century of continued engagement and warmer ties between the two countries. The 1972 visit led to the establishment in 1979 of diplomatic ties between Washington and Communist-ruled China; Beijing often highlights those years as an example of a golden era in bilateral relations.
At the Chinese Foreign Ministry's daily news briefing on Thursday, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman, said that Xi Jinping, China's top leader, had sent condolences to President Biden. Premier Li Qiang sent condolences to Mr. Kissinger's family, and Wang Yi, the foreign minister, sent them to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Xie Feng, China's ambassador to the United States, wrote on X, formerly Twitter: "He will always remain alive in the hearts of the Chinese people as a most valued old friend."
China has sought to highlight the era of engagement that Mr. Kissinger represented as a counter to what Beijing sees as the Biden administration's efforts to compete with and contain China. In July, China laid out a red carpet welcome for Mr. Kissinger, including an audience with Mr. Xi.
"China and the United States' relations will forever be linked to the name 'Kissinger,'" Mr. Xi said to Mr. Kissinger as the two men sat side by side in cream-colored armchairs. "I express my deep respect to you."
China highlighted the historical significance of the Kissinger-Xi meeting in its choice of venue. It was the same building – where half a century earlier Mr. Kissinger had met Zhou Enlai, who was then China's premier: Villa No. 5 of the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.
Kissinger, who visited China more than 100 times, "was viewed as a living legacy of the good old days," said Dean Wu Xinbo of the Institute of International Studies...
In July, Mr. Kissinger also met with the Chinese Defense Minister at the time, Li Shangfu, who had rebuffed multiple requests for meetings with Lloyd Austin, his American counterpart.
Note: This prompted John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, to express frustration that a private citizen had more access to the Chinese leadership than the government did.
Mr. Kissinger, who visited China more than 100 times, "was viewed as a living legacy of the good old days," said Wu Xinbo, the dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.
When Mr. Xi was on the cusp of power in 2012, he met Mr. Kissinger twice – once in Beijing and then in Washington. In 2019, Mr. Xi told Mr. Kissinger that his "major contributions will go down in the annals of history."
Mr. Kissinger figures in Chinese textbooks as crucial in relations between China and the United States, a leader who fathered an extended period of ever-closer engagement between the two countries. But with former President Donald J. Trump and then President Biden shifting American policy away from engagement and toward greater wariness, Mr. Wu said, Mr. Kissinger's influence was regarded as waning.
Mr. Trump imposed broad tariffs on Chinese goods, greater scrutiny of visa applications from China, stricter limits on high-tech exports to China and tighter monitoring of Chinese investment and intelligence-gathering activities in the United States, Mr. Biden has kept Mr. Trump's tariffs and further tightened military agreements with the Philippines and Australia as a way of countering China.
Conclusively, on social media, Mr. Kissinger's death dominated search topics. Chinese shared comments on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, mourning the death of Mr. Kissinger. (Source: NYT)
Mr. Henry Kissinger, a man who devoted his all to the office, his work and his belief, may have mortally gone for good, but his intellectual impacts on the bilateral relations between China and the U.S. will be felt, not "waning" as the Dean of Shanghai Fudan University has prematurely put it.
The Chinese president has continuously pledged that China works altruistically for world prosperity and peace. And China has seized the occasion of Kissinger's passing to press its point that a stable relationship with the U.S. is immeasurable – by having the nation's four top leaders to send condolences – comparable to the U.S' way of sending high-powered officials and politicians to Beijing, paving the way to the APEC San Francisco summit – with both sides pledging to keep the ship on even keel.
One focal point remains: President Biden must stand firm on his pledge. No more political staggering and wavering, and his legacy as President Xi's "friend" is assured.