Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and China’s ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai sounded an upbeat note about bilateral relations at the U.S.-based Committee of 100’s 25th anniversary dinner in New York on Thursday night.
Both individuals, who were keynote speakers at the event, also underscored their hopes that major progress will be made to resolve differences when Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with President Barack Obama in his first state visit to Washington in September.
“Cooperation between China and the U.S. is essential for the peace of the world. None of us can benefit from confrontation,” Kissinger, 91, said at the dinner hosted by the top Chinese-American civic and China relations group. He noted the U.S. and China now interact with each other “all over the world” and that “with increased interaction, stepping on toes is inevitable, but cooperation between the United States and China is essential.”
Kissinger praised both Obama and Xi, saying that both men were aware of the need to improve cooperation in the lead up to their summit later this year, while saying it should lead to “great progress.”
Cui said in his speech that China’s rise had “not only lifted China,” but had also “brought the success story of one-fifth of humanity to the global stage.” Noting China’s quantum leap from past centuries in which it was the victim of imperialism, social turmoil and foreign invasion, he said: “What China seeks is to rise from (this) past – not to challenge or threaten anyone else.”
The Chinese ambassador said the U.S. and China should also cooperate to “seize the opportunity” in their relations.
The September summit between Obama and Xi was arranged after the two leaders discussed bilateral frictions in a February telephone call. The sticking points included tensions over trade and human rights and allegations of hacking and Internet theft.
Xi and Obama held an informal summit in California in 2013. Obama also made a state visit to Beijing in November.
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