China threat: Ex-US diplomat warns Sino-American rivalry could lead to all-out ‘world war’

Taiwan: Foreign Minister warns of 'military assault' from China

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The former US Secretary of State, who served under President Richard Nixon, famously worked on the 1971 diplomatic easing between Washington and Beijing. Now, Mr Kissinger has told a forum on global issues the US and China’s tensions carry more risks than the Cold War.

Speaking to the McCain Institute’s Sedona Forum, Mr Kissinger said he feared the mix of China and the US’ economic, military and technological strengths could lead to a devastating world war.

The former official said tensions with China are “the biggest problem for America, the biggest problem for the world” at the forum.

In response to the tensions between Washington and Beijing, Mr Kissinger called for relations to improve to avoid disaster.

He then told the audience: “Because if we can’t solve that, then the risk is that all over the world a kind of cold war will develop between China and the United States.”

Mr Kissinger then cited both the US and China’s advanced supply of nuclear weapons, which he said multiplied the doomsday threat posed by Russia and Washington in the 1970’s.

He added: “For the first time in human history, humanity has the capacity to extinguish itself in a finite period of time.

“We have developed the technology of a power that is beyond what anybody imagined even 70 years ago.

“And now, to the nuclear issue is added the hi-tech issue, which in the field of artificial intelligence, in its essence is based on the fact that man becomes a partner of machines and that machines can develop their own judgment.

“So in a military conflict between hi-tech powers, it’s of colossal significance.”

Comparing the Soviet Union’s tensions with the US between 1947 and 1991 to China, the former Secretary of State suggested Washington and Beijing’s issue are more complex.

He added: “The Soviet Union had no economic capacity. They had military technological capacity…

“China is a huge economic power in addition to being a significant military power.”

Mr Kissinger then suggested US policy to China must take a two-pronged approach, where it stands firm on US principles to demand Beijing’s respect, while maintaining a constant dialogue and finding areas of cooperation.

He told the forum: “I’m not saying that diplomacy will always lead to beneficial results.

“This is the complex task we have … Nobody has succeeded in doing it completely.”

Tensions between the US and China have surged in recent years for a variety of factors, including the coronavirus pandemic, aggression from both Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea, accusations of human rights abuses and trade disputes.

US President Joe Biden has promised “stiff competition” with China, and has condemned aggression against Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific nations.

Mr Biden insisted during his address to Congress on Wednesday Beijing and others were “closing in fast” in economic and technological races with Washington.

He added: “We’re in a competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century.”

In response, China’s Foreign Ministry blasted Mr Biden and stated they have yet to see an improvement in its relationship with the new administration after former President Donald Trump left office.

Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing: “The US always demands that others follow the rules while violating the rules themselves.

“It is in nature out of Cold War thinking and ideological bias, and is a sign of lack of self-confidence.

“We hope the US can discard the mentality of sour grapes towards China.”

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