China leans on Kissinger goodwill, but influence 'diluted,' expert says

100-year-old former diplomat tries to help thaw icy tensions between Beijing, Washington

China has bet on positive press from a meeting with former U.S. national security adviser and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, hoping to use the face-to-face to revive positive momentum as relations with the U.S. remain tense.

"China reaching out to Kissinger really is a sign of desperation," Gordon Chang, Gatestone Institute senior fellow and a China expert, told Fox News Digital.

Kissinger did not represent the U.S. in either his visit to Beijing or his meeting with Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, until late last year.

Wang spoke glowingly of Kissinger, who played a pivotal role in helping to normalize ties between the U.S. and China during the Nixon and Ford administrations. The now 100-year-old Kissinger has continued to regularly visit China since he left office.


china leans on kissinger goodwill but influence diluted expert says

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, left, meets with the top diplomat of China's Communist Party, Wang Yi, in Beijing on July 19, 2023. Amid a steep downturn in relations with the United States, China has looked to a meeting with Kissinger to revive positive momentum. (Zhai Jianlan / Xinhua via AP)

Wang referred to Kissinger as "an old friend" and praised his "irreplaceable role" in continuing to develop relations between the two countries.

"U.S. policies towards China require Kissinger-style diplomatic wisdom and Nixon-style political courage," Wang said, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

Chang argued that Kissinger has seen his influence "diluted" and his ability to influence American policymaking "much diminished."

"That's not to say it's no influence at all, but it is to say that it's certainly a shadow of itself," Chang said.


china leans on kissinger goodwill but influence diluted expert says

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger speaks during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 22, 2019. (Reuters / Jason Lee / Pool / File)

"I don’t see any positive results," he continued. "For Kissinger to have influence, there would need to be positive movement on the part of the Chinese, so until they're willing to do that, I don't think that Kissinger actually is going to move things much."

China and the U.S. have watched as relations have deteriorated over the past year, particularly after each appeared to take up different sides of the Ukraine invasion: Beijing has backed Russia and used the conflict as a means of trying to refocus international dynamics further east.

Chinese officials also reacted with anger last year when then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, which Beijing claims as Chinese territory.


china leans on kissinger goodwill but influence diluted expert says

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi shake hands before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on July 18, 2023. (Reuters / Florence Lo / Pool)

Beijing this month canceled a trip from a top European diplomat amid ongoing disagreements on a range of issues, including the European Union’s intention to start sourcing materials from areas outside of China – but officials said they did not want to "decouple" from the world’s second-largest economy.

Wang used the meeting with Kissinger to emphasize that the U.S. must stop trying to reform China and that it is impossible to encircle, contain or transform the country, which officials have accused Washington of trying to orchestrate through trade and technology policies.

Chang argued that if China has decided to raise the point, it means "they’re deeply worried about it."

"When you start to look at the dynamics in the region, it's not just the United States," Chang said. "It's in the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Australia – all of these countries are coming to the same conclusion that China is dangerous."

"They don't all share exactly the same views, but they're all more or less moving in them," he added. "They're all moving in the same direction, and China's worried about it."

Kissinger a day earlier had told China’s defense minister, Li Shangfu, that their countries should "eliminate misunderstandings, coexist peacefully and avoid confrontation."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news. 

Authored by Peter Aitken via FoxNews July 19th 2023