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Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dies at age 100

Updated 20:06, 30-Nov-2023

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger died on Wednesday at his home in Connecticut at the age of 100, Kissinger Associates said in a statement.

Born in Germany in 1923, Kissinger is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, Nancy Maginnes Kissinger, two children by his first marriage, David and Elizabeth, and five grandchildren.

Kissinger had been active past his centenary, attending meetings in the White House and publishing a book on leadership styles. 

During the 1970s, in the midst of the Cold War, he had a hand in many of the epoch-changing global events of the decade while serving as national security adviser and secretary of state under U.S. Republican President Richard Nixon.

Kissinger's reign as the prime architect of U.S. foreign policy waned with Nixon's resignation in 1974 amid the Watergate scandal. Still, he continued to be a diplomatic force as secretary of state under Nixon's successor, President Gerald Ford, and offered strong opinions throughout the rest of his life.

He was also awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1973.

Moving to the United States with his family in 1938 and anglicizing his name to Henry, Kissinger became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1943, served in the Army in Europe in World War II, and attended Harvard University on a scholarship. He later earned a master's degree in 1952, a doctorate in 1954 and taught as a member of Harvard's faculty for the next 17 years.

During much of that time, Kissinger served as a consultant to government agencies, including in 1967 when he acted as an intermediary for the State Department in Vietnam.

An 'old friend' to Chinese people

Kissinger visited China more than 100 times and was hailed as an "old friend" to the Chinese people for his significant role in brokering the two countries' rapprochement over five decades ago. His last visit was in July 2023, two months after his 100th birthday.

During the visit, Kissinger said the United States and China can influence the world and that maintaining stable relations between the two countries has a bearing on world peace, stability, and the well-being of humanity.

No matter how difficult it is, both sides should treat each other as equals and maintain contact, he said, adding that it is unacceptable to try to isolate the other side.

In July of 1971, Kissinger, as national security advisor to then-U.S. President Richard Nixon, secretly flew to Beijing from Pakistan. His visit paved the way for a groundbreaking 1972 summit in Beijing between Nixon and the late Chairman Mao Zedong. This summit eventually led to the normalization of U.S.-China relations.

Kissinger had a deep relationship with China and had met with several Chinese leaders. In his book "On China," published in 2011, Kissinger described his 40 years of more than 50 visits to China as secretary of state, national security adviser and foreign policy expert.

2019 was the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States. Kissinger, then 96, participated in the second New Economy Forum held in Beijing from November 21 to 22, 2019. 

At the forum, he emphasized the importance of understanding Chinese history and culture. He believed the international system needs balance, and China is an important part of that system.

Kissinger also expressed his disagreement with the implication that China should be treated as "a greater threat" to the United States or the world because of its capacity development. For the mutual benefit of both sides, China and the United States should work to limit the negative impact of the trade tensions, he said.

Read more:

Kissinger's China visit critical for improving China-U.S. relationship

 (With input from agencies)

(Cover: File photo of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger speaking at the annual Gala Dinner of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations in New York, October 24, 2023.)

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