During “Talk of the Nation” with Kissinger, Ted Koppel chimed in saying that after reading On China, he got a sense that Kissinger has developed great admiration for what the Chinese have accomplished.
Kissinger said that was correct, that he respected what the Chinese people have accomplished historically, which was the longest, unbroken record of self-government of any society in the world today, which includes the economic transformations that have taken place in the last 30 years.
Then Koppel led the conversation to 1969, Nixon, Soviet troops on China’s northern border at the time and the Vietnam War. Discover more of China’s motives during Mao’s time at The Lips Protecting China’s Teeth.
Later in the conversation, Koppel mentioned that Mao had attempted to contact the United States through American journalist Edgar Snow but was unsuccessful.
Kissinger replied, Mao did not want to deal with us through a communist channel. We did not want to deal with Edgar Snow. At the time, there were (political) elements in both countries that believed that the relationship between the US and China would be irreconcilably hostile (impossible to overcome differences) and the challenge was to make contact without a public embarrassment of rejection for either side.
One caller asked, “Does it work against our best interests by pretending that leaders, like, in China represent the Chinese people?”
Kissinger replied, “The United States often deals with countries whose governments were not directly elected by the people.… I think we should tell China that we are, in principle, for self-determination of peoples.”
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