NEW YORK -- The US-China relations will enjoy steady and continuous progress in a long period to come, as many problems in the world today require the two countries to cooperate in many ways, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger said here on Monday.
Stephen A. Orlins (R2), president of the United States National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR), Henry Kissinger (R3), former US secretary of state, attend a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, the United States, January 5, 2009. [Xinhua]
"Our ties in the next 30 years could make the same progress as they had made in the last 30 years, that could be good for the world, be good for our countries," Kissinger told Xinhua in an exclusive interview, as China and the United States are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their establishment of diplomatic relations this month.
It is a "fascinating thing" that the progress of the relationship has been "continuous" over such a long period, during which the two countries have seen four generations of Chinese leaders and eight American administrations, said Kissinger.
Just two weeks ahead of a government transition in Washington, the seasoned diplomat advised President-elect Barack Obama to also "dedicate himself to a continuous development of Chinese and US relationship."
Leaders of the two countries should be in direct contact with each other, and Obama should go to China "at a relatively very early point," he suggested.
Meanwhile, he cautioned, "We should not judge the relationship by how quickly our president travels, but should judge it by whether at an early stage significant conversations take place between leading Chinese and leading Americans and whether real progress is made on outstanding issues."
Just hours before the interview with Xinhua in his New York office, Kissinger attended a special Opening Bell sounding ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange to mark the anniversary of US-China diplomatic ties, which officially fell on Jan. 1.
It was a highly confidential visit to China by Kissinger in 1971 that paved the way for a groundbreaking 1972 summit in Beijing between President Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong, which eventually led to the normalization of US-China relations on Jan. 1, 1979.
"(At that time) if anyone had told me that I would celebrate an event about the People's Republic of China on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, I would think that could be inconceivable because that time was before the Chinese reform, and when China was still at a very early stage of its development," said Kissinger, who played a key role in US foreign policy in the late 1960s and most of the 70s.
The mere fact that the event could take place shows the link between China and the United States is both on the economic level and the political one as well, he commented.
According to the renowned strategist, the world has entered an era in which leaders must "keep an eye on the opportunities they have for cooperation." "They should realize that they for the first time in the history can deal with issues on global bases, and not just on their national bases, so this is a great opportunity for them," he explained.
For example, he said, the United States and China now have "a common opportunity because the international economic system has to be rebuilt," and "it can not be done unless the United States and China agree on the agenda of direction."
"There were so many political crises in the world, which require cooperation, and I believe this really can be a beginning of a new era of our relationship," he added.
The world also has many other problems that are "more subtle, more complicated and less direct," and they require US-China cooperation in many ways, Kissinger noted.
"What is needed is a continued development by both leaderships of methods of cooperating and solving the world's problems," he stressed.
Called in China "an old friend of the Chinese people" and one of the few foreigners who have the privilege to be received by all the four generations of Chinese leaders, Kissinger told Xinhua that he now feels China has become an integral part of his life, though he barely knew anything about that remote country when he first visited it.
"China is important for political reasons to America. But for me, it is important because I have come to admire the dedication of the Chinese people and the historic achievement of the Chinese people," said the 85-year-old man with emotion.