Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State and diplomacy “guru” considers the military conflict between the US and China due to Taiwan very likely if there is no de-escalation of the tension.
“If things continue on the trajectory we’re seeing and there’s no dialogue, military conflict is very likely,” Kissinger told Bloomberg News editor John Micklethwait when asked about the possibility of China invading Taiwan.
“So I believe that the current course in terms of bilateral relations needs to change.”
Kissinger said it was up to both Washington and Beijing to change their stance as, he said, both leaderships were at the “top of a cliff”.
Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken will travel to Beijing. Blinken will be the first high-ranking US official to visit China in five years, but the White House is keeping the bar low, saying no developments are expected.
The diplomat, author of several books including “On China,” written a year before President Xi Jinping took office, is closely watched for his views on Asian geopolitics, given his secret trip to China in 1972 and his role in normalizing US-China relations when Richard Nixon was president.
Taiwan has long been one of the most sensitive issues in US-China relations.
Beijing, which claims the self-governing republic of Taiwan as Chinese territory, has long sought to regain control of the island through “reunification” and regularly warns Washington against arms sales and any political involvement with the Taiwanese leadership.
Senior US military officials have repeatedly warned that China’s leadership is intent on invading. Indeed, the People’s Liberation Army will seek to occupy Taiwan in the coming years – possibly by 2027.
However, Kissinger said what he knows for sure is that wars between two superpowers cannot be won. Or, as he put it, “they are won only at enormous cost.”
“It’s a unique situation in the sense that each country’s biggest threat is the other — that is, China’s biggest threat is America, in their perception, and the same is true here,” Kissinger said.
It is recalled that Kissinger had also spoken to the Economist a month ago, expressing thoughts that could very well be the content of a manual under the title “How to avoid World War III”.
As he says, we are living in a world of unprecedented destructiveness and that is why world leaders in particular need to act fast, rather than be quiet, while he further analyzes the reasons why the global community needs China and Russia in order to have a robust architecture security.
At the end of May and in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the former US Secretary of State forewarned that tensions between Beijing and Washington could turn into a military conflict.
“I believe that China, given the power it has, is a dangerous potential adversary [for the US],” Kissinger’s source was quoted as saying.
“I think it could turn into a conflict. We have two societies with global historical views, but different cultures that compete with each other,” he explained the reason for the tense situation.
According to the ex-secretary of state, the reason for the conflict could be a “problem” in the South China Sea.
“I would like to see if we can find ways to solve it on the principle of freedom of the high seas. If this is not done, clashes cannot be avoided,” the politician stated.
He also added that a potential conflict between China and the United States with modern weapons could destroy civilization.
Despite his reputation as conciliatory toward the Beijing government, he acknowledges that many Chinese thinkers believe that America is in decline and that, “therefore, over time, we will eventually be replaced.”
He believes China’s leadership resents Western politicians’ narrative of a rules-based world order, when what they really mean is America’s rules and America’s order.
China’s rulers are offended by what they see as a “condescending bargain offered by the West” for granting privileges to the Land of the Dragon.
In Washington they say that “China wants global dominance. The answer is that [in China] they want to be strong. They do not desire world domination in the Hitlerian sense.
They do not and have never thought of the world order that way. In Nazi Germany, war was inevitable because Hitler needed it,” Kissinger appreciates, but China is different.
Kissinger believes that the Chinese system lends itself more to Confucianism than to Marxism.
This teaches Chinese leaders to gain the maximum power their country can have and seek to be respected for their achievements. Chinese leaders want to be recognized as the final arbiters and deciders of the international system of their interests.
What did he say about Putin?
President Vladimir Putin may struggle to hold on to power if the war in Ukraine forces Russia to abandon military aggression and accept a peace deal with Europe, added Kissinger.
“I would like a Russia that recognizes that its relations with Europe have to be based on agreement and some kind of consensus, and I think this war, if it’s done right, can make that possible,” Kissinger told Bloomberg.
When asked if Putin could survive in power if the war ended on these rather unfavorable terms for Russia, the “big wolf” diplomat replied:
“He’s unlikely to survive.”