Former US Secretary of State and expert in international relations Henry Kissinger has warned that the tensions between Washington and Beijing may eventually escalate into a new full-scale cold war if the bilateral issues underlying them remain unaddressed and undiscussed. He added that the conflict between the two states has not gone beyond the point where it can't be resolved.
"That makes it, in my view, especially important that a period of relative tension be followed by an explicit effort to understand what the political causes are and a commitment by both sides to try to overcome those. It is far from being too late for that, because we are still in the foothills of a cold war", Kissinger said.
The veteran diplomat further stated that the negative consequences of potential conflict between the world's two biggest economies could outweigh those of the First World War in Europe. He noted that the latter also erupted due to a "relatively minor crisis" that wasn't "mastered".
Kissinger expressed support for the ongoing trade talks between Washington and Beijing and hoped that they will be successful. He added that if this is the case, then the US and China will be able to proceed to "a political discussion" to address other bilateral issues.
"[States like the US and China] are bound to step on each other’s toes all over the world, in the sense of being conscious of the purposes of the other", he said.
US-China Trade War
Washington and China have been making progress in trade talks recently, reaching an agreement on the so-called "Phase One", with additional trade discussions looming ahead. So far, the sides haven't negotiated lifting the tariffs in bilateral trade.
The trade dispute started in 2018 after the US accused China of abusing existing trade practices, demanded that a new trade deal be negotiated, and imposed 25% and 10% tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminium respectively. Since then, Washington has introduced several additional rounds of tariffs, with Beijing always responding by imposing tariffs of its own on American goods. Currently, billions of dollars’ worth of goods on both sides is affected by the economic measures, which Beijing regards as illegal.