The late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping was one of the greatest men of the 20th century, who contributed a great deal to China's development, said former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in a recent interview with Xinhua on the occasion of Deng's 100th birthday.
"In current China, it is unimaginable without Deng Xiaoping. It is a case where one man makes a decisive difference. Almost everything that is happening in the current reform, I have heard him saying at some point 15 years ago. Of course, it has evolved in a way that was unimaginable even when he was still alive. His contribution to current China is decisive," the US statesman said.
"The reform in China was initiated by him. I had the honor of hearing him explaining to me on many occasions. I had the honor of being able to compare what he said to me in 1974 and again in 1979 with what actually happened. Very few statesmen can say they achieve their own predictions," he said.
As one of the foreign guests who met Deng most often, Kissinger said he was impressed by Deng's charisma as a statesman and as an ordinary person. He described Deng Xiaoping as "a man of few words who had the great ability to sum up a subject and reduce it to a few sentences, so he got a lot of businesses done in a limited period of time."
Kissinger also recalled how Deng Xiaoping invited him to his favorite dish, Mongolian hot pot, in a restaurant. "It is not often done by Chinese leaders to invite a guest to a restaurant," said Kissinger, noting that though they had an exclusive room, it was in a regular restaurant, not a state guesthouse. This indicates that Deng took him as a friend and treated him in an informal manner, he added.
On another occasion, said Kissinger, he happened to be in Seattle when Deng Xiaoping was traveling through the city during his visit to the United States. Kissinger left a note at Deng's hotel, asking to visit him in his hotel room.
"I got the message back, saying since I already called him in Washington, now he owed me a visit. He walked from his hotel to my hotel, to my room, creating absolute chaos among the security people," Kissinger said.
On US-China relations, the former secretary of state said a strong and prosperous China would make huge contribution to the development of the world.
"As long as I know Deng Xiaoping, he was a strong advocate of close relations with the United States and friendship with the United States. I think the current Chinese leaders, the third generation of Chinese leaders and the fourth generation of Chinese leaders also carry this legacy of Deng Xiaoping," he said.
He noted that as the world is faced with a host of new problems and new situations, such as terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the emergence of countries as new major international players, it requires a change in the traditional ways of looking at foreign policy.
"But at the same time I think the solution of all problems is greatly eased when China and the United States work together. The development of US-China relations benefit not only the two peoples, but people of all Asia and the world," Kissinger said.
(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2004)