Former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright stressed the importance of the U.S.-China relationship Monday night in New York, while expressing optimism for cooperation between the two countries as the U.S. moves to transition into the Trump administration.
The two former top officials in U.S. foreign policy made their remarks at an event called, “Leaders Speak: Secretaries of State.”
“The U.S. and China must have a close and friendly relationship,” said Kissinger, former Secretary of State under the Nixon administration and a crucial figure in the establishment of China-U.S. diplomatic ties in 1979.
“The peace of the world relies on our ability to do this,” he added.
On recent China-related remarks posted by the President-elect Donald Trump on social media regarding Taiwan, both former top foreign policy officials agreed that any deviation of current U.S. foreign policy norms will not be in the common interests of both countries.
Kissinger noted that in the early term of the Bill Clinton Administration, the then president tried to deviate from the established policy pattern toward China.
“In two years, President Clinton realized that our established pattern was in our common interests” and then “became one of the strongest supporters of this way of international relations,” said Kissinger.
Albright stressed the importance of the established channels of dialogue between the two countries, saying “we have developed a way of talking to each other” through a variety of administrations.
“I hope there’s a learning process” for the new administration to realize how essential the U.S.-China relationship is, said Albright.
Albright was appointed secretary of state under the Clinton Administration in 1997 and was the first female to hold that position.
She also believed the U.S. should be more enthusiastic about China’s many initiatives and said the two powers should cooperate in establishing an economic architecture in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The U.S. made a mistake by not being enthusiastic about China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,” Albright said.
The two top diplomats also commended the cooperation between the two countries, including efforts to battle climate change and terrorism.
They also expressed optimism about the future of the relationship.
“We will have more and more educational exchanges and we’ll understand each other’s history and culture,” said Albright.
“Our work internationally is not in competition but in cooperation,” she added.
“In 20 years from now we will be celebrating our creative cooperation,” said Kissinger.
The event was held by the U.S. National Committee on U.S.-China Relations as one of the programs to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its establishment and moderated by the president of the Committee Steve Orlins.