In naming key American players who facilitated the normalization of China-U.S. ties in the 1970s, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s name is sometimes omitted from the list. Yet his contribution was undeniable. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter in 1981, who said “his leadership has been instrumental in building peace and ending the estrangement of the Chinese and American people.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski passed away in 2017, but his legacy lives on in many forms and not least through his three children, one of whom is Mark Brzezenski, former U.S. ambassador to Sweden under the Obama administration.
During the 2019 China Development Forum in Beijing, CGTN host Tian Wei talked to Mark Brzezenski at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where the elder Brzezenski had stayed at when he first came to China in May 1978.
During that visit, Brzezenski famously told then Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping that “the U.S. has made up its mind” regarding China-U.S. ties. Later that year, China and the United States made joint announcements that the establishment of official diplomatic relationships would occur on January 1, 1979.
Half a century later, Mark Brzezenski came to Beijing at a time when China had become the second largest economy in the world, a cause both for celebration and tension with the world’s largest economy. Ambassador Brzezenski said had his father been alive, he would be going on American television and explaining to people how the Sino-U.S. relationship benefits Americans.
“Because he (Zbigniew Brzezinski) believed so much in the Sino-U.S. relationship as having the potential to address some of the world’s great challenges of today and tomorrow. He really felt that this is the most important relationship America has with the world,” said Ambassador Brzezenski.
Brzezenski added that his father would have also come to China to meet with the Chinese leadership, reminding them that “it takes two to tango,” urging both sides to constructively engage each other.
Ambassador Brzezenski revealed that his father had a “very good personal relationship” with President Xi Jinping, and when his father passed away in 2017, his mother received a personal letter from the Chinese president.
Growing up in the Brzezenski household was an education in international relations. The elder Brzezenski would ask his children who were still at elementary schools about their views on topic such as the Middle East peace process. Some home lessons in diplomacy were even cinematic and historically significant. Ambassador Brzezenski recalled the home banquet his parents prepared for Deng Xiaoping when the Chinese leader visited Washington, D.C. in January 1979.
“Our street was closed off by the secret service, there were helicopters overhead, then Mr. and Mrs. Deng arrived in a long motorcade with police cars,” he recounted.
The young Brzezenski watched his parents encounter trouble with the fireplace in the house, having to change dinner to a different room, and his sister spill caviar on Deng Xiaoping. Mark Brzezenski said the experience was “very human” and he appreciated his father always including his family in his political life.
Zbigniew Brzezinski shared the world with his family – Europe, the Middle East, Asia. On a trip to China in July 1981, Brzezinski took his children to retrace part of the route of the Long March, visiting the site of the battle of Luding Bridge over the river.
No doubt thanks to their father’s influence, all three Brzezinski children are working in fields related to foreign policy and politics, with youngest daughter Mika Brzezinskia becoming a well known MSNBC journalist and talk show host.
Mark Brzezenski correctly foresaw the increasing range of China-U.S. conflicts. During the interview in 2019, he said he worried that “the demonization of China is just about trade.”
“I think that there is a demographic of policy people, security people, military people, political people who for decades have been hoping to break the catalyst of the American-Chinese relationship. Their time has come. They have been empowered by the current moment,” said Ambassador Brzezenski.
In the current political climate, he argued that expertise counts less than votes and money. As a result, people who are “part-time foreign policy guys join a presidential administration because they had helped the president campaign.”
“That’s the American political game. And as a result, you get what you ask for,” said Mark Brzezenski.
At a time when even moderate voices on China are getting marginalized, Ambassador Brzezenski recalled an earlier era when world-class experts like his father dominated the American foreign policy.
“During the Cold War, who led American foreign policy? Kissinger, Brzezenski, Scowcroft, Albright – people who were true foreign policy scholars and who had steeped their knowledge in foreign policy from the very beginning to the very end.”
World Insight with Tian Wei is an international platform for debate and intelligent discussion. It is the meeting point of both the highly influential and rising voices, facilitated by host Tian Wei. It provides nutrition to form your own thoughts and ideas through a 45-minute live debate and interviews.
Time (GMT): 1415, 2015
Will Astronauts Have Private Time to Themselves During the Three-Month Trip to The Space Station?
Three Chinese astronauts logged into space on June 17 to fly to the Chinese space station. This is China’s first manned space mission in nearly five years, and the taikonauts will spend three months in space to help build the station and conduct experiments. Their flight has opened up endless reveries for many Chinese.
Father’s Day: Three ‘Treasures’ Xi Jinping Gets From his Father
Fathers always have a great influence on their children – the same applies to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
There are at least three characteristics that Xi has inherited from his father Xi Zhongxun (1913-2002), a leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the state.
File photo of Xi Jinping (L) with his father Xi Zhongxun. /CMG
Many Chinese leaders started their careers from the grassroots, going through the difficulties ordinary people face and understanding the people’s needs, which lays a solid foundation for their practical and people-oriented approach in formulating national policies.
The people-oriented philosophy is one of the most important treasures Xi Jinping got from his father, who believed that officials and the masses are equal and they must always live among the people.
The father once told his boy: “No matter what your job title is, serve the people diligently, consider the interests of the people with all your heart, maintain close ties with the people, and always stay approachable to the people.”
Adhering to the path of “serving the people,” Xi Jinping visited China’s 14 contiguous areas of extreme poverty after becoming general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in November 2012. He went to villages and households, and told communities that he is just “a servant of the people.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping talks to people while visiting Fudao, a 19-km-long pedestrian walkway in Fuzhou, southeast China’s Fujian Province, March 24, 2021. /Xinhua
During his domestic inspection tours, Xi Jinping always chatted with the locals, cared about their daily life and stressed the responsibilities of serving the people with other officials.
The Party has won the people’s wholehearted support because it has always served the people with heart and soul and striven for the well-being of all ethnic groups, Xi has said on many occasions.
Inheriting his father’s down-to-earth approach, Xi Jinping visited all the villages in Zhengding, Hebei Province during his tenure of county Party chief in the 1980s. Then in Ningde, Fujian, he visited nine counties within the first three months as secretary of the CPC Ningde Prefectural Committee, and traveled to most townships later on.
Xi Zhongxun (C) visits rural Huiyang, south China’s Guangdong Province, August 1978. /CMG
After he was transferred to east China’s Zhejiang Province in 2002, he visited all 90 counties in over a year. During his brief tenure in Shanghai in 2007, he visited all its 19 districts and counties in seven months.
The formulation of the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for Economic and Social Development and future targets for 2035 also reflected Xi Jinping’s adherence to investigation and research.
By convening and presiding over a number of symposiums, he listened to opinions and advices on the country’s economic and social development in the plan period from all walks of life.
Living a simple life
The Xi’s has a tradition of being strict with children and living a simple life. Xi Zhongxun believed if a senior Party official wanted to discipline others, he should begin first with himself and his family.
Xi Jinping and his younger brother used to wear clothes and shoes from their elder sisters. After Xi Jinping became a leading official, his mother called a family meeting to ban the siblings from engaging in business where Xi Jinping worked.
Xi Jinping has carried on his family’s tradition and been strict with his family members. Wherever he worked, he told them not to do business there or do anything in his name, or else he “would be ruthless.” Whether in Fujian, Zhejiang or Shanghai, he pledged at official meetings that no one was allowed to seek personal benefit using his name and welcomed supervision in this regard.
Peng Liyuan Calls for Global Efforts in AIDS and TB Prevention and Treatment
Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, called on people from all walks of life in all countries to join hands and take action to strengthen the prevention and treatment of AIDS and tuberculosis (TB), in order to benefit all mankind and build a global community of health for all.
Peng, also World Health Organization (WHO) Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, made the remarks via video link on Monday at the opening ceremony of a special high-level event on the sidelines of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS.
The event aimed to provide a platform for WHO member states to reassert their commitment to ending TB deaths among people living with HIV and deliberate on how they will intensify the response to HIV-associated TB in the context of COVID-19.
Peng said the global fight against AIDS and TB has achieved remarkable results in recent years thanks to the concerted efforts made by the international community.
China has gradually established a cooperation mechanism between prevention and control institutions of AIDS and TB, she said. The country has kept the prevalence of AIDS at a low level, and in the past 20 years, the incidence of TB has dropped by more than 40 percent and the mortality rate by more than 70 percent.
These achievements have been made due to the attention paid by the Chinese government, the efforts of the medical personnel and the silent contributions of the volunteers, she said.
Peng also shared some touching stories and expressed her respect for people and volunteers worldwide who have contributed to the prevention and treatment of the diseases.
Major communicable diseases are among the common challenges facing mankind, and it is people’s common wish to end the threats of AIDS and TB, said Peng.
She added that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought more challenges to the containment of the diseases, calling for global efforts to protect lives and forge ahead.
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