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"Some people know everything, but that's all they know."

THE FUTURE OF U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: The Kissinger Perspective

Henry Kissinger and Chairman Mao, with Zhou En...

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Henry Kissinger’s January 13, 2010, column, appearing in the Washington Post, “Avoiding a U.S.-China cold war,” lays out the former Secretary of State’s vision for the future of U.S.-China relations on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jin-Tao’s visit to the United States. In classic Kissinger style he offers a geo-strategic vision for how the world’s two dominant powers of the 21st century should get along. “The aim should be to create a tradition of respect and cooperation so that the successors of the leaders meeting now continue to see it in their interest to build an emerging world order as a joint enterprise.” A lofty goal, to be sure, but is building a new world order with China as a joint enterprise in America’s best interest?  (More)


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11 Responses

  1. Bob Hoelle says:

    I believe that many of the necessary ingrediants for a cold war with China have been in place for several decades. My opinion is strictly an unofficial one that is probably shared by many americans old enough to remember our relationship with the old Russia. Russia’s increasing nuclear arms and military strength was a major concern of ours. The support of their people was built on fear and propaganda, and their willingness to wage war became very evident to us right up to the time of the Cuban missle crisis.
    China has historicaly allied against us, their military power and sheer numbers are basically the only true knowns. Their scientific, educational, industrial, and especially economic advancements have made them a viable superpower. Their lack of fairness and human rights in their workforce gives them the ability to out produce us in the global market. Since NAFTA no longer requires us to produce within our borders, we have become unable to compete. Our accounts payable to, and dependence on China is a growing concern of most americans.
    As with most communist countries, China rules with fear and will strongarm their own population. They proved that to the whole world when they crushed their own people durring the 1989 protest for democracy at Tiananmen square.
    I hate to sound like a fatalist, but is it possible that we could be just an incident or two away from a full blown cold war with China? I don’t relish the idea of bomb drills in our schools and the digging of bomb shelters as some did in the fifties.

  2. Jim Auer says:


    Thanks for your thoughtful piece.

    Although he doesn’t remind us of his pre 1980s’ views, you and I are “old” (:-() enough to remember that HAK thought that the American people were not tough enough to stand up to the Soviet Union and needed to accomodate. Fortunately the likes of Paul Nitze, Bud Zumwalt, Scoop Jackson and Ronald Wilson Reagan had a different view.

    Best regards,


  3. Hello,
    As a South Asia FAO, I suppose I should be wary of thinking of China as a cordial partner with the USA in a bi-polar world of Washington-Beijing. Sure, I remember China coming across the Yalu in November 1950 to kick our butts in the Eighth Army and the X Corps debacles, until the front got stabilized south of the 38th Parallel. Sure I remember the days of the Cold War with the Soviets, right up to 1989.


    I think the world stage has changed significantly since The Cold War and even Tiananmen Square in 1989. One can start with the rise of Fundamental Islam, among other trends as below:

    India is the back office of the Western business world, China is the manufacturer of many items peddled by the Western business world.

    India and China are trying to revive, awkwardly to be sure, the days of “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai”, broken with their 1962 war.

    (Keep in mind though that India’s navy can choke the oil transit choke points all over the Indian Ocean in heartbeat if desired, while China would be hard pressed to counteract, for the present. And India’s navy would be backed by the US, given current military cooperation.)

    It is in the best interests of the world that China manufactures low cost goods for Western corporations, while India does the back office work. I think everyone knows that – more important, wants that: as Walmart says: “Save Money, Live Better.”

    And as the search for raw materials to feed the Chinese economic engine spreads across Africa and the barren reaches of the Middle East – particularly the rare earths and metals- the economic integration will continue spread like the flu virus. Further, China’s rising need for energy – specifically coal for electrical generation – which means US shipments from Wyoming’s Powder River basin via a new coal shipping port in the Northwest, is a harbinger of things to come. Warren Buffet knew what he was doing to buy the BNSF Railway which will move that coal, along with the UP Railway.
    That’s what I think.

    It should be in the best interests of the US to foster that economic integration and not only maintain, and raise, our current standard of living here through American standards of quality control (anyone for Six Sigma, and ISO standards?), but also raise the standards of living in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, etc.

    Of course, the dead hand of fundamentalist religions must be kicked to the curb along the way of doing that integration.

    Some notes on a shabby cuff.

  4. Linda Bowles says:

    Dear Ed,
    I stayed in Hong Kong for 2 months back in the
    year of 2001. What I saw were the people of
    China working for less than .50 an hour;and their
    housing was provided by the company they worked
    for. It reminded me of our U.S. military barracks.

    They do not follow any code for controlling pollution and are dumping mercury right in Victorian Harbor. One man from the United States that was working with a United States
    Company came back with high levels of mercury
    in high blood stream.

    Their rules for shop lifting is to chop of your
    hand and sew it back on! Believe me, they
    do have a stiff hand in controlling the people
    of China.

    When we entered LAX I was so happy just to see
    the American flag. God bless this United States
    of America and those of the military that are
    protecting something I cherish-“Freedom.”

    • EWRoss says:

      I’ve been to Hong Kong many times. It was my favorite city in Asia because of the mixture of Chinese and British culture. I fell out of love with Hong Kong when it reverted to China in 1997. Once the communists got hold of it much changed.

  5. There are no options but to befriend China. Look, our country does not have any money to wage a military buildup against someone like China. Where are we going to get the loans to do this? We are broke. Our allies are broke. Everyone knows this, including the Chinese.

    I would be surprised to learn that China wants to harm us in any way whatsoever. They need us too.

    And why are ther Taiwanese mocking us with cartoons? When the PRC is performing military exercises off the coast of the ROC who are they gonna call? http://www.nma.tv/hu-jintao-jets-washington-2/

  6. Gapster says:

    I think I have found the people I would like to see elected to Congress. I’m referring to the people who have posted comments to Ed’s article!

    It’s amazing to me how well informed and intelligent and excellent thinkers we American citizens are–well many of us anyway. I’m not sure where the heck we get these people we elect to run our government. I think that there may be too many academics among them and not enough common sense thinkers—or loyal Americans.

    That’s it. Anything I could say has already been very articulately said by the ‘poster.’

    Best Regards,


  7. EWRoss says:

    Right on Gapster.

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