Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has lauded China's development achievements and said China will move forward despite difficulties in the coming years.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Kissinger extended congratulations to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which was in progress in Beijing.
Talking about the keynote report delivered by General Secretary Hu Jintao at the CPC congress, Kissinger said: "I was impressed by the report's emphasis on reform, on the expression of confidence in the future of China and on the conciliatory tone in foreign policy."
Known as "an old friend of the Chinese people," Kissinger has been keeping a close eye on China since his first visit to the remote country over 40 years ago.
The visit paved the way for a groundbreaking 1972 meeting in Beijing between China's late Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976) and former U.S. President Richard Nixon (1913-1994), which eventually led to the normalization of U.S.-China relations on Jan. 1, 1979.
Witnessing China's development on the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the past four decades, Kissinger said it was an extremely impressive performance.
"If in 1971 when I first saw China, somebody had described to me what China looks like today, or maybe imagined some pictures of the buildings, I would have said that's crazy, that can't happen," said Kissinger. "But it was done."
As China is built into the global financial system and is itself a big part of it, it is possible that China is affected by crises in other parts of the world, referring to the financial crisis in the United States in 2008 and the current debt crisis in Europe, he said.
"But it is interesting to watch that in both of these crises, the Chinese government, after a brief period of learning to understand the issue and adjusting to it, managed to ride the ship and continue it in the right direction," he said.
Talking about challenges facing China, Kissinger said China is "a country of vast size with huge ambitions" and that it started on the process of developing a country from the coast towards the interior and from the countryside to the cities, which is an enormous technical problem of building infrastructure, housing and communications.
Furthermore, as China is in more direct contact with more different and in itself a part of the international system in an extraordinary degree, how Chinese leaders adapt its diplomacy relevant to that situation is a challenge before them, he said.
As to the issue on fighting corruption referred in the 18th congress report, Kissinger said corruption is almost unavoidable when a country develops from a very low to a very high standard, but the Chinese leaders have identified it as a problem and are determined to solve it.
"My experience with Chinese leaders has been that they fulfill their promises, so I am optimistic," he said.
As to relations between the United States and China, he said cooperation between the two countries is crucial for world peace and the two governments should look above day-to-day irritations.
"When two great countries are in touch with each other, they are bound to step on each other's toes occasionally. The problem is how to manage it and even more important how to create a vision for the future," he said.
The two countries need to resume and intensify consultation between the two leadership, work on several levels and try to find projects on which they can work together, he said.
As one of a few people who have interactions with all four generations of Chinese leaders, Kissinger has "high expectations" for the new generation of leadership, which will be unveiled after the CPC congress.
"Now this generation is coming into office in a period of turmoil and in their personal lives they have had a different experience," he said. "They've had a great deal of turmoil which strengthened them in the face of several challenges they're facing today."
"And based on the past experience of China, I expect China to move forward. Of course, there will be difficulties but progress is never smooth and uninterrupted," he said.