Kissinger served as Secretary of State and National Security Adviser under Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in the 1970s.
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Veteran U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger said Monday that Washington and Beijing must avoid putting Taiwan at the center of their strained diplomatic relations, adding that the need to avoid direct confrontation between the world’s two largest economies is in the interests of world peace.
His remarks came shortly after President Joe Biden said the United States would be ready to intervene militarily if China invaded a democratic, autonomous island.
Biden’s comments came as a break in Washington’s deliberate and long-standing tradition of “strategic ambiguity” over Taiwan. The White House quickly sought to reduce the number of comments, saying it did not reflect a change in policy.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in a rare spring edition of Davos, Kissinger said: “The United States should not give up or gradually build something of a ‘two-China’ solution, but China will continue the practice of patience that has been practiced so far.”
“A direct confrontation should be avoided and Taiwan cannot be at the core of the talks because it is between China and the United States.”
Earlier Monday, Biden told reporters at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida that the United States would be ready to defend Taiwan if Beijing attacked.
The comments provoked a reaction from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which expressed “strong dissatisfaction and strong opposition” to the remarks.
Under the “One China” policy, the cornerstone of diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing, the United States diplomatically acknowledges China’s position that there is only one Chinese government.
However, the United States maintains a “strong informal” relationship with Taiwan, and Washington supplies military equipment to the island under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act. The law does not require U.S. military intervention to protect Taiwan if China invades, but it does create a policy that reserves the island’s self-defense and prevents Beijing from unilaterally uniting the island.
China claims that Taiwan is part of its territory and is pressuring the Democratic Republic to accept its rule.
Kissinger said, “For the main part of the talks, it is important that the United States and China discuss policies that affect the relationship of adversaries that at least give some scope for cooperative efforts.”
He added, “It is important for the United States and China to alleviate their hostile relations for the sake of overall peace in the world.”
Kissinger, who turned 99 on Friday, served as secretary of state and national security adviser in the 1970s under Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
Kissinger, a controversial and polarizing political figure, influenced some important turning points in US foreign policy while in office. This includes sorting out US relations with China.
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