Saturday, December 3, 2016

Henry Kissinger visits China to ease concerns amid Trump transition

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met with China's Xi Jinping on Friday, a visit Kissinger described as timely in a moment of political transition in the United States.

The meeting was held as President-elect Donald Trump took a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, an unprecedented move that could cause friction in U.S.-China relations.

On Friday, Xi told Kissinger, "The presidential election has taken place in the United States and we are now in the key moment. We, on the Chinese side, are watching the situation very closely. Now it is in the transition period," the South China Morning Post reported.

In November during the annual gathering of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Xi had made similar comments in a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Xi said the U.S.-China relationship is at a "hinge moment," while not mentioning President-elect Donald Trump by name.

Kissinger, who had met with Trump two weeks ago in New York, said, "Overall, we hope to see the China-U.S. relationship moving ahead in a sustained and stable manner."

The former advisor to President Richard Nixon has previously described Trump as the "most unique" president-elect" who has "no obligation to any particular group because he has become president on the basis of his own strategy."

Uncertainty has also prevailed in Beijing owing to Trump's campaign pledges that include a promise to impose import tariffs on China and condemn the world's second-largest economy as a currency manipulator.

Professor Zhang Zhizhou of the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University told the Post that "People are worried, especially given his comments during the campaign, about how Trump, who has no experience in public service, will handle Sino-U.S. relations. Will he manage ties simply based on his own thinking?"

The phone call with the Taiwanese leader has already invited criticism, a move that the "Chinese leadership will a highly provocative action, of historic proportions," according to former Obama advisor Evan Medeiros on Friday.


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