On Tuesday, the Chinese-controlled Hong Kong security forces arrested 90-year-old Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen and two other human rights advocates in the city-state that is officially a "special administrative region" of China.
Three days before this latest brass-knuckled blow to human rights under the aegis of China, Henry Kissinger called for a resumption of dialogue and better relations with Beijing's Communist government.
Considered the pivotal player in President Richard Nixon's outreach to China in 1972, the former secretary of state told the Financial Times Festival in Washington D.C., that "the geopolitical situation globally will undergo significant changes after the Ukraine war is over. And it is not natural for China and Russia to have identical interests on all foreseeable problems. I don't think we can generate possible disagreements but I think circumstances will."
Nobel laureate Kissinger went on to predict that "after the Ukraine war, Russia will have to reassess its relationship to Europe at a minimum and its general attitude towards NATO. I think it is unwise to take an adversarial position to two adversaries in a way that drives them together, and once we take aboard this principle in our relationships with Europe and in our internal discussions, I think history will provide opportunities in which we can apply the differential approach."
He emphasized that this "doesn't mean that either of them will become intimate friends of the West. It only means that on specific issues as they arise we leave open the option of having a different approach. In the period ahead of us, we should not lump Russia and China together as an integral element."
Newsmax spoke to several experts and asked what they thought of Kissinger's vision of a revived opening to China.
Nick Eberstadt, who holds the Henry Wendt chair in political economy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), took sharp exception to Kissinger's view on China.
"Our national security community in America doesn't even have the language yet to describe the new and unfamiliar threats to the USA and the U.S. order that are being posed by the fateful decision to integrate PRC into the world economy and the global governance structure, much less the intellectual framework, or considered policy options, for how to cope with the unintended consequences from that momentous but ultimately failed gamble," said Eberstadt, co-author with fellow AEI scholar Dan Blumenthal of the book "China Unquarantined" laying out China's possible future threats to the West.
"I think Kissinger is mistaken," said Fred Fleitz, president of the Center for National Security Policy. "China has no interest in a bona fide relationship of friendship and free trade with the U.S. But I do agree we shouldn't lump Russia and China together. I hope someday after [Russian President Vladimir] Putin leaves power, the U.S. and Europe can rebuild a relationship with Russia and treat it as a European power."
Larry Haas, onetime communications director for Vice President Al Gore and now senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, told Newsmax he strongly agrees "that the United States should capitalize on the opportunities that will present themselves when China and Russia do not have identical interests on future occasions.
"In fact, Nixon and Kissinger pursued the even bigger opportunities that presented themselves at a time of Sino-Soviet conflict in the early 1970s with the U.S. opening to China. I also strongly agree that 'we should not lump Russia and China together as an integral element.' In fact, they are very different countries with very different futures, and that will be even more true in the aftermath of the Ukraine war."
But, Haas warned, "we must be cognizant that, currently, China and Russia are growing closer to one another — militarily, diplomatically, and economically — in an anti-American axis, and our opportunities to play one off against the other will be limited."
Zeljana Zovko, Member of the European Parliament from Croatia and former ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Italy, said that "China is a big issue lurking behind the current situation in Russia and Ukraine. A new outreach would save us from having a conflict with China down the road. So, I would agree with Henry Kissinger."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.