December 2, 2023

Former U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger is seen on a screen during a video address to attendees of the 2023 World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss alpine resort of Davos, January 17, 2023.

Arnd Wegman Reuters

BEIJING — Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met with Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu in Beijing on Tuesday. The ministry said in a statement.

The U.S. embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

During the surprise visit, Kissinger said he was a friend of China and encouraged closer cooperation between the two countries, the statement said.

“The United States and China should eliminate misunderstandings, coexist peacefully, and avoid confrontation.” History and practice have continuously proved that neither the United States nor China has the ability to regard the other as an adversary. ’” Kissinger said, according to Reuters.

Li Keqiang did not name them, saying that “some people in the United States” failed to meet China halfway before, which led to the lowest point in Sino-US relations.

The meeting between Kissinger and Li Keqiang came as John Kerry, the president’s special envoy for climate issues, also participated in climate talks in Beijing.

Kerry’s trip to China follows those of U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in the past few weeks.

Blinken said he failed to resume military dialogue with China during his June visit.

Diplomatic ties between the two global powers have increasingly fractured in recent months amid a series of tit-for-tat trade caps on the tech sector and heightened tensions around the Taiwan Strait. Despite the security concerns, Li Keqiang and the U.S. defense secretary have yet to speak formally.

Kissinger’s visit comes almost exactly 52 years after his clandestine trip to Beijing in July 1971 – a move that paved the way for then US President Richard Nixon to normalize US relations with China under Mao Zedong.

More than half a century later, the centenarian is still widely revered in China.In an article in China in May Global Times The newspaper called Kissinger’s contribution to U.S.-China relations one of his “career highlights.”