The death of Kissinger will end an era in U.S.-China relations

Remembering Deng Xiaoping in the Early 1900s: The Legacy of a U.S. Leader and a Living Legacy

Mr. Kissinger, who was a leader in the United States, is believed to have helped to create crucial relations between China and the United States. But with President 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.

The fact that those reforms were initiated by Deng Xiaoping, the same Chinese leader who ordered the crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square, speaks to the ambiguous nature of Mr. Kissinger’s legacy. On the one hand, the U.S.-Chinese rapprochement contributed to the outcome of the Cold War and improved standards of living for the Chinese people. The Chinese Communist Party has become a principal enemy of the United States and has begun to threaten to invade Taiwan while Mr. Kissinger has remained in contact with them.

President 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 export controls. Military agreements with Australia and the Philippines have been strengthened to counter China.

Mr. Kissinger was the top search topic on Chinese social media. The death of Mr Kissinger and the passing of Charles Munger were mourned by the people on Weibo.

“Many people think that he was not a good friend of Taiwan, and I think there is some truth to that,” said Lu Yeh-chung, a professor of the department of diplomacy of National Chengchi University in Taipei.

Mr. Kissinger “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.

Mr. Kissinger spoke with Mr. Blinken regularly, including as recently as last month, Mr. Blinken said. He had also consulted with previous secretaries of state, including Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton (who took heat for those conversations during her presidential campaign), John Kerry and Mike Pompeo. But he wasn’t some retired coach, reminiscing about the good old days. Instead, he remained the ultimate back-channeller, especially to leaders in China.

The Global Times, a paper owned by the ruling Communist Party, said in a posting that the Chinese people will always remember his historic contributions to promoting China-U.S. ties. He will always be a friend to the Chinese people, according to Xie Feng, China’s ambassador to the United States.

The reason for his advice was not only due to his experience, but because he was going to Israel to try to end the conflict. Exactly fifty years ago, Mr. Kissinger flew the same route during his famous shuttle diplomacy.

Many of Mr Kissinger’s detractors saw this determination to remain involved as a sign of a thirst for power and an attempt to burnish his legacy, as he was aware that his forgiveness of massacres, bombings and deaths of thousands in Cambodia and Vietnam was tarnishing his reputation.

The Kissinger conversations with presidents and secretaries of state were also about the relationship with Beijing. He was engaged in strategy discussions on Russia, with whom he negotiated SALT I, a major arms-control treaty. He weighed in on artificial intelligence, a passion of his in recent years and a subject he wrote about at length, often with Eric Schmidt, the former Google chief executive who grew close to the former secretary of state.

Mr. Kissinger met with the embassy’s vast staff, talking about what the process of opening the relationship was like — in an era when it seemed inconceivable China would become the world’s second-largest economy.

The current ambassador to China lives in a house built by Mr. Kissinger during the time the United States had a representative to China.

It was a calculated move. Mr. Xi was making clear that he wanted to move back toward the warmth that surrounded President Richard M. Nixon’s opening to China in the early 1970s, engineered by Mr. Kissinger in secret interchanges and a remarkable, also secret trip to China. The summit with President Biden that was set up after the July visit will be held in San Francisco this month.

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