The American politician and diplomat Henrry Kissinger believes that the two greatest world powers today, the United States and China, must learn to coexist to avoid a confrontation of global dimensions.
“Both are convinced that the other party represents a strategic danger.” “We are heading towards a confrontation between great powers,” says the veteran politician in an interview that The Economist did to him last April and that is reported today by the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.
Kissinger, who will turn 100 on May 27, accumulates extensive experience in international politics, and as a former US Secretary of State (1973-1977), he is one of the key figures in the last stage of the “cold war.”
fate of humanity
In his opinion, the fate of humanity depends on the US and China understanding each other.
He believes that China “is trying to play a global role” and wonders: “is it possible for China and the US to coexist without the threat of all-out war between them? I thought and still think that it is”, although he acknowledges that success is not guaranteed.
The former US Secretary of State believes that the understanding forged between President Richard Nixon and Mao was annulled by Donald Trump, and that current President Joe Biden has followed the same example, albeit with liberal rhetoric.
On Taiwan, he believes that a Ukrainian-style war will destroy the island, devastate the world economy and could push China back domestically.
As for the economy, the danger is that the trade agenda will be hijacked by hawks who are not willing to leave China any room for development.
“We are not interested in leading China to dissolution,” he says. Instead of getting locked up, the US must recognize that China has interests. A good example is Ukraine.
On this matter, he considers that the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, “has made a catastrophic error of judgment”, but the West is not blameless. “I think the decision to leave Ukraine’s accession to NATO open has been very wrong,” he says.
He thinks that Russia and China share a suspicion of the United States, but he also believes that they instinctively distrust each other.
And regarding China’s attempt to mediate in the war in Ukraine, it is partly “because it does not want to enter into conflict with the United States,” he says. “They are creating their own world order, to the extent that they can.”
Kissinger believes that another area in which his country and China need to talk is that of artificial intelligence.
“I think we need to start the exchanges about the consequences of the technology on the other. We need to take small steps toward arms control; steps where each party presents the other with controllable material about the capabilities,” he says.
He thinks that “it is possible to create a world order on the basis of rules that Europe, China and India could adhere to. That is already a good portion of humanity… So, if you look at its usefulness, it may end well; or, at least, it can end without catastrophes.”