On May 20, 1978, Zbigniew Brezinski, former National Security Advisor to the then US President Jimmy Carter, arrived in Beijing with a historic mission to give impetus to the normalization of US-China relations.
During his stay, Brezinski met for the first time with then Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping who was in charge of foreign affairs at the time.
Time flies. More than 26 years have passed since that visit, yet Brezinski still has a fresh memory of Deng during an interview with Xinhua recently.
He said, "I had opportunities of meeting with Chairman Deng Xiaoping on several occasions. Obviously the most important one was the first one in which we were able to address seriously and in depth the mutual American and Chinese interest in normalizing relations, and also eventually in developing a joint strategic posture."
"I must say from the moment I began to engage in a dialogue with him, I was impressed by the quickness of his mind and the clarity of his strategic purpose," Brezinski recalled.
The first meeting between Deng and Brezinski had apparently laid a solid foundation for the negotiations on the normalization of Sino-American relations. At that time, there were many obstacles in the way, the most sensitive one being the Taiwan issue. Thanks to the sustained and resolute efforts by their leaders, China and the United States overcame the difficulties and normalized bilateral relations on Jan. 1, 1979.
Speaking of Deng's historic contributions, Brezinski said, "I think Deng Xiaoping changed China's position in the world and China's domestic transformation."
"By normalizing relationship with America, he accelerated the development of wide-ranging relations between China and the rest of the world, which subsequently proved so profitable for China."
Brezinski spoke highly of Deng's reform process. "He started very wisely with the agricultural sector and he carefully moved from one level to another in the transformation of the industrial sector and of the urban aspect or urban portion of China's economy."
"In fact, China today would not be the increasingly significant global economic power that it is or that is coming without Deng Xiaoping," Brezinski said.
Brezinski has been following the development of China for decades. Having visited China several times after Deng passed away, Brezinski hailed the enormous changes in China.
"On the streets of Beijing when I went there for the first time, all one saw was people in blue overalls... Men and women either walking or riding on bicycles. Today, Beijing is a modern city, full of cars, very many of them private cars. Men and women are dressed very differently. Men and woman are very beautiful and elegant."
He attributed the "phenomenal changes" China has obtained to the normalization of the US-China ties, saying "If American and Chinese hostility persisted, a lot of them won't have taken place."
In addition, Brezinski pointed out the US benefited from the normalization as well. "To America, the benefit is a more stable Asia. That is an important benefit to America... A more stable Far East is enormously important to us."
Brezinski said that it is important to maintain good relations between Washington and Beijing "because without that the situation, not only in Asia and Far East but broadly in Euro Asia, would become unstable."
During the interview, Brezinski also recalled his meetings with the younger generation of Chinese leaders, describing them as "extremely competent, intelligent, modern type of leaders."
He expressed the belief that the US-Chinese relationship should and will continue to expand, "if leaders of the two countries are mindful of the importance of that relationship, and not diverted by secondary provocations."
(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2004)