Kissinger: trade dispute between US and China could turn into a real war

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warned on Thursday that the trade dispute between China and the United States could turn into a virtual war between the two Pacific giants.

Kissinger, 96, Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon, is the architect of the historic rapprochement between the two major powers in the 1970s.

At a conference organized by Bloomberg Media Group in Beijing, Kissinger expressed concern about the trade confrontation between Washington and Beijing since last year, which is the exchange of trade duties on their imports.

“If we let the conflict escalate, the result could be worse than what happened in Europe,” he warned. “World War I erupted as a result of a relatively small crisis … while weapons are much stronger today.”

Besides their trade dispute, the two countries are strategically confronted, especially over Taiwan and the South China Sea, which China asserts sovereignty over.

“China is a major economic power and we are,” Kissinger said. “We are doomed to have conflicting interests everywhere in the world.”

He added that during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, a plan to reduce the nuclear capabilities of the two powers was a top priority.

But since disputes between the United States and China have always been “ineffective,” Kissinger warned that Washington has no framework for treating Beijing as a “military power.”

If both sides continue to view “every issue in the world as a dispute between them,” it could be “dangerous for humanity,” he said.

He believed the trade negotiations between the two countries were only an “alternative” to more important negotiations on differences between Washington and Beijing, including tension over Hong Kong.

Asked whether the unrest in Hong Kong could be the “spark” of a new Cold War, Kissinger said he hoped the issue would be settled “by negotiations.”

In 1971, Kissinger traveled secretly to Beijing to start talks on relations between the United States and communist China.

To date, he is highly appreciated in China, which receives him warmly when he visits, and met with President Xi Jinping when he visited Beijing in November last year.

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