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
Xi-Biden Call Analysis: Cooperation Should be Based Upon Mutual Respect
In the first phone conversation between the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies in seven months, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday morning had a “candid, in-depth and extensive strategic communication and exchanges” with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden, according to a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
“On the basis of respecting each other’s core concerns and properly managing differences, the relevant departments of the two countries may continue their engagement and dialogue to advance coordination and cooperation on climate change, COVID-19 response and economic recovery as well as on major international and regional issues,” Xi told Biden.
White House officials said Biden initiated the 90-minute phone call, which is only the second of this kind since the U.S. president took office.
There had been high expectations for Biden to improve bilateral relations ever since he replaced former President Donald Trump in January.
Biden’s China journey four decades on
Biden came to China in 1979 as a member of the first delegation the U.S. Congress sent to China. The then senator said in a speech that China’s development was good for the United States.
He visited China again in 2011, and wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “a successful China can make our country [U.S.] more prosperous, not less.”
“On issues from global security to global economic growth, we share common challenges and responsibilities – and we have incentives to work together,” read the article titled “China’s Rise Isn’t Our Demise.”
In his first phone call with Xi on the eve of the Chinese New Year in February this year, Biden sent his greetings to the Chinese people. He said he was prepared to have candid and constructive dialogue with China in the spirit of mutual respect and to improve mutual understanding and avoid miscommunication and miscalculation.
Yet such goodwill failed to match up with the actions, according to Yuyuantantian, a public WeChat account that focuses on current affairs. And hostility has been particularly evident in the U.S. Congress.
In recent months, there have been more China-related bills in the U.S. Congress than ever before, with more than a dozen in July alone, most of which recommended the adoption of opposing or restrictive policies against China.
The U.S. has made a major strategic miscalculation on China, said Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, as quoted in the Yuyuantantian article. “It mistakenly takes China as a major strategic competitor and believes whatever China does is aimed at undermining the U.S. leadership and dominating the international order.”
Xi has said China and the United States will have different views on some issues, but the key is to respect each other and treat each other as equals. But the U.S. has yet to learn to do that, according to Yuyuantantian.
‘Whether China, U.S. can handle their relationship well bears on the future of the world’
China and the United States are respectively the biggest developing country and the biggest developed country, whether they can handle their relationship well bears on the future of the world, and it is a question of the century to which the two countries must provide a good answer, Xi said in the Friday phone conversation.
The two countries should bring relations back to the right track of stable development as soon as possible for the good of the people in both countries and around the world, he added.
How to get China-U.S. relations back on track has become a “must-solve problem,” Yuyuantantian commented, adding that the ball is now in the U.S. court.
Washington is gradually losing its reputation all around the world, the public account said. “If it really wants cooperation, it has to ‘get off its high horse,’ face the reality and start an open dialogue with China,” it added.
Through the lens: How 20 Years of Conflict Since 9/11 Changed Afghanistan
The Afghanistan war ended just as abruptly as it had begun. Two decades ago, the September 11 terrorist attacks led the U.S. to formulate its controversial counter-terrorism policy, including its longest war in history – the war in Afghanistan.
Twenty years later, the mountainous country nestled in the heartland of Asia has once again come to a crossroads as the U.S. withdrew its troops, with the Taliban reclaiming the power they lost two decades ago.
Afghanistan has long been a battlefield for global powers, but it has never been conquered, hence its moniker – the “Graveyard of Empires.”
In the series “Through the lens: Afghanistan 2001-2021,” we dive into the scars the war has left on the country, and the fear, wrath and resilience of the Afghan people, in eight episodes.
The September 11 attacks claimed some 3,000 lives, making it the deadliest attack in U.S. history.
The U.S. military invaded the country, already war-plagued and impoverished, in the name of the “war on terror.”
In decades of war and destitution, opium poppy plantation and production have become a major source of income for local farmers. “Either Afghanistan destroys opium, or opium will destroy Afghanistan,” former Afghan President Hamid Karzai once said.
In the protracted war in Afghanistan, no one suffered more than Afghan civilians. Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee from homes with no shelter and rarely any food.
Wars after wars have made migration a norm for the Afghan people. As of 2021, Afghanistan is the third largest source of refugees in the world, with the number of Afghan refugees standing at 2.6 million. Domestically, 4 million internally displaced persons are still in temporary camps.
In the capital, Kabul, there are only two kinds of people – the rich and the poor.
On April 14, Biden announced the U.S. troop withdrawal would be completed by September 11, marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked the invasion. In the months that followed, the country witnessed massive chaos.
How the new Afghan government deals with the wide range of social, political and economic issues will determine how an Afghanistan under the Taliban will be received by the Afghan people and the world.
Editors: Zeng Ziyi, Zhao Yue, Wang Xiaonan, Yu Jing, Zhong Xia, Du Junzhi
Images designed by Liu Shaozhen
Graphics by Yang Yiren
Producer: Wang Xiaonan
Xi Jinping Urges ‘True Multilateralism’ in World’s ‘Daunting’ Economic Recovery from COVID-19
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday said the world economy is undergoing a “daunting recovery” which requires “true multilateralism” in the face of fresh COVID-19 flare-ups.
“We are ready to work with all parties to uphold true multilateralism, advocate trust and harmony, promote win-win cooperation, and march with firm steps toward the goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind,” Xi said at the opening ceremony of the plenary session of the sixth Eastern Economic Forum via video link from Beijing.
The forum – held in Russia every year since 2015 – has the goal of promoting multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Last year’s session was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the speech, Xi called for the international community to unite. “We need to intensify cooperation in vaccine research, development and production, provide more public goods to the international community,” he said.
The Chinese president also voiced opposition to any sort of politicization of COVID-19 vaccines and origins-tracing.
Extra efforts for mutually-beneficial cooperation
“We need to redouble our efforts to advance mutually-beneficial cooperation,” Xi said at the opening ceremony.
He called for the deepening of collaboration between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union in areas including digital economy and climate change.
The Chinese president also urged the group to embrace a “common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security” by “narrowing differences” and “building consensus through dialogue and exchanges.”
As Friday marks the 76th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, Xi also called for the defense of the victory’s outcomes.
“The international community must defend firmly the victorious outcomes of World War II, safeguard the truth of history, and stay committed to taking history as a mirror to open up a brighter future,” Xi said.
(Cover: Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the opening ceremony of the sixth Eastern Economic Forum via video link, September 3, 2021. /Xinhua)
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