Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger served under President Richard Nixon and was a significant influence over American relations with China. He gave a warning on Thursday that the U.S. and China are moving in the direction of a cold war amid increased disputes between the world’s two largest economies and rising global tensions.
Bloomberg News reported that Kissinger made these comments at the New Economy Forum in Beijing. Kissinger urged both countries to agree on a “commitment” to understanding each other’s differences.
“That makes it, in my view, especially important that a period of relative tension be followed by an explicit effort to understand what the political causes are and a commitment by both sides to try to overcome those,” he reportedly said. “It is far from being too late for that, because we are still in the foothills of a cold war.”
The former secretary of state then reportedly pointed to ongoing trade discussions between the U.S. and China and challenged them to reach an agreement to end the year-plus trade war that has weighed on their economies.
“Everybody knows that trade negotiations, which I hope will succeed and whose success I support, can only be a small beginning to a political discussion that I hope will take place,” said Kissinger who is 96-years-old. He served as secretary of State from 1973-1977.
The U.S. and China have been engaged in a trade dispute since the middle of 2018 over issues like intellectual property theft, resulting in several rounds of tariffs and retaliatory tariffs.
Negotiations between Washington and Beijing had been expected to conclude earlier this year, but they have yet to lead to a comprehensive deal.
The two countries have also taken different positions on territories in the South China Sea, with China claiming ownership over manmade islands in the area, disrupting U.S. efforts to patrol shipping lanes.