Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called on President- Elect Donald Trump to soften the tone of his harsh rhetoric against China. On the campaign trail Trump called China a “currency manipulator” and promised a tough foreign policy against the country. In an interview for “Face the Nation,” Kissinger was asked by moderator John Dickerson if Trump will maintain his tough stance against China.
“I hope he wouldn’t maintain the posture.” Kissinger said. “I believe they are now at a point where they are undergoing major domestic reforms and where they believe that a period of prolonged coexistence with the United States is in their national interest.”
Kissinger, who served as a National Security Advisor and Secretary of State in the Nixon and Ford administrations, told Dickerson it was in the United States’ best interest for a coexistence with the Asian super power as well, especially as it relates to handling North Korea. Developing nuclear weapons “is the only really successful thing they’ve done in their existence,” Kissinger said and a good working relationship with China could be beneficial should the isolated country collapse.
“The regime is likely to collapse. So then we will have a vacuum in North Korea. And that’s exactly what, in 1950, led to a Chinese-American War” He said and added, “I think it is very important that China and the United States come to some understanding, not just on the nuclear question, but on what happens afterwards, so that not all neighbors rush into the vacuum and then drag us in that way.”
The former Secretary of State spoke about the ongoing conflict in the South China Sea. He told Dickerson the situation can be “calmed down in the way the Taiwan issue was calmed down 40 years ago.” This, Kissinger said, would not mean making a final settlement, “but by getting both sides to agree to live with a set of circumstances they can tolerate.”
With regards to the South China Sea, the incoming president has called on sending more naval ships to the area. Dickerson asked Kissinger if this is a recipe for balance or an escalation.
“He should first analyze the balance he wants before specific military moves.” He said. “But he should be ready to make them once he has a strategy.”
For more of our interview with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger click here.