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tv   Henry Kissinger Discusses Diplomacy with China  CSPAN  August 11, 2021 11:21pm-11:59pm EDT

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>> it is my honor to host this discussion with dr. henry kissinger. i want to say first how important henry kissinger was to john mccain. really a great source of counsel advise on foreign policy and a loyal friend in every way.
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i was privileged on a couple of occasions to be together with henry kissinger and john mccain one memorable trip overnight across the atlantic. in which we spoke on many topics and there was a way in which john and i were enthralled by hearing henry stories of the remarkable privileges he had to be involved in the making of american foreign policy. becoming a member of the harvard
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faculty and then becoming involved in politics national security advisor and secretary of state under president nixon and president florida. not just the titles. a remarkable series of accomplishments that in my opinion make him the most successful, eminent diplomat statesman of our age. i'm not just praising a friend but think about it. he paved the way for the detente with the soviet union. he opened discussions with china in 1971 and that led with his leadership to the summit between president nixon and chairman mao in 1972. the opening of relations with china that was formalized later in 1979.
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he successfully concluded the paris peace conference and the vietnam war. he has continue to be a source of great leadership and counsel. on behalf of sidney mccain and the entire family, i thank you, henry, for being with us. the topic of this year's sedona form is defending democracy, which of course mattered to john. and if i may, i would like to -- and they want us to focus on the pivotal relationship with china, between the u.s. and china. in some ways even more important, a bilateral relationship to manage to avoid
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-- i wonder if you would reflect a bit on those historic opening discussions you had that led to the beginning of the u.s.-china relationship and compared to where we are now. what your goals were then in whatever goals were -- what our goal should be no. >> a prisoner in vietnam. he had been a prisoner for many years. at the end of the vietnam war, i was in hanoi to conclude the final negotiations.
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said to me you can take commander mccain home on you -- home with you on your plane as a sign of goodwill. i did not think it was such a great sign of goodwill ahead of the commander in pacific would come home with me on a presidential plane. in any case, i refused to take it. and i was wondering in the four months that intervened before i met him, which was at a white house reception and john mccain came up to me and said thank you for saving my honor.
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we became good friends. through all the years afterwards, in all of the positions he had until he became senator. i had not known no person similarly dedicated to the importance of america and the lessons he drew from his experiences, democracy as an important commitment of the united states and security.
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he dedicated himself to this. to me, he is a great symbol of the best america can do and it was an honor for me to remain friends for the rest of our lives. one of the great honors of my life. >> i agree. >> he has been a great supporter
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of american importance. i was born in democratic germany and then in nazi germany as a member of a discriminated minority. to me, america about which i knew nothing except it was a symbol of freedom to me and that -- and i was a great admirer of president roosevelt, of whom i also knew nothing. except that he was the president of the country. to which my family had emigrated out of europe.
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we came as a group to the ended states. -- to the united states. how commitment to democracy can be exercised. i respect what he has done. in terms of what i have said about john mccain [indiscernible] sec. lieberman: thanks, henry.
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i preach your treatment to john, which i know comes from your heart and i thank you for it. we are at a point again and you bring a lot of history to it. we are effectively managing our relationship with china. it is they could tickle element of our foreign policy. one of the more challenging aspects of it goes to the heart of the theme for the sedona conference, which is defending democracy. just last month, tighe terry of stay blinken met with the -- secretary of state blinken met with china in anchorage. the differences came right to the surface. blinken said china was threatening the rules-based order that maintains global stability and yang said the u.s.
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had to stop advancing its own democracy on the rest of the world. on capitol hill and in this administration, the biden administration, there is a lot of concern about cheney's treatment of the uighurs -- about chinese treatment of the uighurs and yet we all know there is a desire to figure out how to manage our relationship with china in a way that is mutually beneficial and not -- there is not an open military conflict. how do we bring all that together? how do we remain in any way true to our values of freedom and human rights and still managed to live successfully in a world
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with a china? sec. kissinger: when i was security advisor to president nixon, the united states had no diplomatic contact with china or any contact with china for 25 years. and mao was the leader in china. dramatic upheavals had been taking place in china. and great human suffering.
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at the same time, the greatest threat to the united states was the soviet union. it was the only other country that had nuclear weapons of any magnitude and it was developing its military. it was actually engaging in flights over berlin for the entire cold war. the additional challenge we had was the vietnam war, which we in the nixon administration inherited.
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a political environment for which we were not prepared historically. in america, the domestic opinion was obsessed with the vietnam war. some kind of order -- [indiscernible] under pressure. this is why we opened to china
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. i had the honor of being the first american diplomatic visitor to china. this is however relationship dish -- this is how our relationship began. in a position closer to both china and russia, committed to each other. to develop a basic strategy. i'm talking about 60 years ago.
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in 1976, five years after the opening of china, [indiscernible] there was next to no trade. in the next decade, trade developed. there was the uprising in tiananmen square. at that point, the economic relations with china were minimal.
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trying to include significant human rights element. that did not get anywhere. that the economic relationship would produce more significant economic political compatibility .
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[indiscernible] so our question is what is the issue today? [indiscernible] that for the first time in modern history, had the capacity to extinguish itself in a finite period of time. we have developed the technology
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of a power that is beyond what anybody imagined. out of the nuclear issue, the high-tech issue. which in the field of artificial intelligence is at its essence based on the fact that man becomes a partner of machines. machines can be developed at our own judgment. a military conflict between high-tech powers --
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it should be avoided. on the other hand, -- i experienced in my youth the significance of oppressed people. how can we combine these two? i believe we must be in constant dialogue with china.
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we must not sacrifice them. in the united states, when you have negotiations, which i believe is necessary, the public thinks there is no strategic problem. then you weaken yourself by neglecting defense. how is it possible to maintain a spec data posture at the same
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time get into a consensual dialogue with the chinese to understand -- [indiscernible] but at the same time negotiate different conflicts and a collaborative effort. nobody has succeeded completely.
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it is usually one side or the other. that is the essence of the relationship that challenged the administration. i think alaska was a good example of that because it is not usual the opening statement of a diplomatic conference -- [indiscernible] but it also has the advantage of showing where we are and what we need to do.
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[indiscernible] the soviet union had no economic capacity. they had military technological capacity but they did not have the capacity china does. cheney is a huge economic power -- china is a huge economic power. it is a very challenging task for america. it is important we unite on that. and don't divide ourselves into one group that is in favor of the moral aspect and another in
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favor of the strategic aspect. the two have to be linked. sec. lieberman: that was an excellent statement. realistically balanced and very wise. who are faithful to our national values but also made clear how much is at stake in managing this relationship and make sure it does not break into open conflict and continue to talk to the chinese. i arrived in the senate in the late 1980's and i was at the middle of the discussions about china. the clinton administration in which the president and administration fought to integrate china into the global economy both for mutual economic
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benefit but also with the hope it would create a more democratic china. the fact it has not created a more democratic china has today led some people to want to break away from the economic relationship. i'm sure you agree the economic relationship with the integration of china has not only been good for the chinese but it has been very beneficial for us. the fact it has not led to as much democracy as we hope it would within china should not lead us to walk away from what you described as a necessity of constant dialogue. we have a few minutes left and i want to ask you a question that was much more strategic than about democracy. one of the things you did brilliantly in the early 1970's in opening our relationship with china was to work within the
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context of the tension between the soviet union and china. and to form a strong alliance but also to maintain a pretty decent u.s.-soviet detente. today, it appears that this soviet -- russia and china, president putin and president xi are coming closer and closer together and i wanted to ask you to reflect on how that may complicate america's desire to improve and peacefully manage our relationship with china. sec. kissinger: china and the united states, china and the
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soviet union are united strategically and politically. a large concentration of population. it covers three quarters of eurasia. it has a tremendous impact to the extent the united states -- there is a combination of enforcement for this objective.
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at that time, china was a trading partner. today, china has a large economy. huge population. significant military power. the population is shrinking but still significant. it cannot be in the united interest to drive the two types together. historical experience of -- [indiscernible]
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it is not in our interest to forge the countries together. distinct policy for each of them. each side considers its own.
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[indiscernible] with respect to the ukraine and other neighboring countries. so that the new -- ukraine is absolutely entitled to independence. the united states --
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[indiscernible] i am not saying -- when you are forced into confrontations, we can say to ourselves we have made every effort to achieve peaceful outcomes. but because of domestic
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politics. sec. lieberman: i agree. that is a great agenda really, a challenge to this administration to -- and i am taken with it. not only to continue the dialogue with china but to try to restart in an honest way a dialogue that has not existed for quite a while with russia. it is in our interest -- we have used our time. we could go on for hours. you are a real inspiration. it is a blessing you continue your not only able but willing to share the lessons of your
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extraordinary life. you're just a source of great wisdom for a lot of us. i cannot thank you enough again on behalf of the memory of john mccain and specifically cindy mccain. thanks for all you brought to this discussion today. i pray god will bless you and your family with only good things for a glatt more -- for let more years to come. be well. see you soon. >> c-span's washington journal. every day, we are taking your calls live on the air on the news of the day and discussing policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, we will talk about student loan debt and potential changes to forgiveness and repayment programs with a student loan attorney and a forbes contributor. then we turn to immigration policy with america's voice
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executive director frank sherry and later, the center for innovation studies director. watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 eastern thursday morning and be sure to join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, text messages and tweets. >> sunday night on q&a, journalist elizabeth becker, author of you do not belong here, tells the story of female war -- female vietnam war correspondence at a time when covering where was a male profession. >> there was no embedding like we have now. there was no military censorship. it was probably the first and last uncensored american war. it was for women, a gift. because it was only because of this lack of codification, this
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openness that women could get through what had been the biggest barrier as a war correspondent that you were not allowed on the field. >> journalist elizabeth becker sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. you can find all q&a interviews wherever year podcasts. -- wherever you get your podcasts.


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