– China wants a healthy and stable relationship with the United States but relations have been damaged by the American side, the Chinese defence minister has told Henry Kissinger.
General Li Shangfu, who is on Washington’s sanctions list, told the veteran diplomat the China-US relationship is “hovering at the lowest point since the establishment of diplomatic relations” in 1979.
Li blamed the deterioration on “some people on the American side failing to meet China halfway”, according to a news release on the Ministry of Defence’s official social media account.
Kissinger, as Richard Nixon’s national security adviser and secretary of state, played a key role in normalising ties in the 1970s.
“The fact of interdependence between the two countries is being neglected, the history of win-win cooperation is being misinterpreted, and the atmosphere of friendly communication is being undermined,” Li added.
“China is taking a path of peaceful development and that’s a blessing not a misfortune for the world, and the United States should make a correct strategic judgment.”
Li declined a formal meeting with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin at a defence summit in Singapore last month.
A senior Chinese general cited US sanctions imposed on Li – for his alleged role in acquiring Russian weapons for the People’s Liberation Army – as a reason for declining the meeting.
Beijing has also been resisting calls for the US military and the PLA to resume high-level communications after they were cut last August following former House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, something Beijing saw as a serious breach of its sovereignty.
“We have always been committed to building a stable, predictable and constructive China-US relationship,Li said.
Referring to a meeting last year between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden, he added: “We hope that the US side will work with us to implement the consensus of the heads of state of the two countries and jointly promote the healthy and stable development of the relationship between the two countries and two militaries.”
Kissinger said he was visiting “as a friend of China”, according to the Chinese statement, adding that the two countries should “resolve misunderstandings, coexist peacefully and avoid confrontation”.
“History and practice have continuously proven that neither the United States nor China can afford to treat the other as an adversary,” said Kissinger, who turned 100 earlier this year.
“A war between the two countries would not bring any meaningful results to the peoples of the two countries.”
He suggested the PLA and the US military strengthen communication, and “do their best to create positive results for the development of relations between the two countries and maintain world peace and stability”.