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National Committee on US/China Relations celebrate 50th anniversary

CCTV.com

12-17-2016 09:59 BJT

The National Committee on US-China Relations has recognized the work of two men in bridging ties between the two countries. They are former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and business executive Maurice Greenberg. The event comes at a challenging time for bilateral relations.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the National Committee on U.S./China Relations rings the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange - a fitting location for a relationship largely built on a foundation of mutual economic interests.

Former U.S. secretary of state, Dr. Henry A. Kissinger(L) and Maurice Greenberg, Chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co., and former chairman and CEO of American Insurance Group attend an event marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of National Committee on U.S.- China Relations (NCUSCR) in New York, the United States on Dec. 15, 2016. Kissinger and Maurice Greenberg received Lifetime Achievement Award here on Thursday night. "The fundamental thing to keep in mind is that the peace and progress of the world depend on the abilities of the United States and China to respect each other

Former U.S. secretary of state, Dr. Henry A. Kissinger(L) and Maurice Greenberg, Chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co., and former chairman and CEO of American Insurance Group attend an event marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of National Committee on U.S.- China Relations (NCUSCR) in New York, the United States on Dec. 15, 2016. Kissinger and Maurice Greenberg received Lifetime Achievement Award here on Thursday night. "The fundamental thing to keep in mind is that the peace and progress of the world depend on the abilities of the United States and China to respect each other's core interests, and to modify the core interests in order to make cooperation possible," said Kissinger during the event. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

On Thursday, the committee handed out two lifetime achievement awards - to former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger and Maurice Greenberg, former CEO of insurance giant AIG.

"When two countries of the magnitude of the United States and interact there will always be points at which they disagree because of their very magnitude but the fundamental thing to keep in mind is that the peace and progress of the world depend on the ability of the United States and China to respect each other's core interests and modify their core interests in order to make cooperation possible. If that does not happen the tensions will multiply. The world will be divided between pro Chinese and pro American factions. And sooner or later one of those tensions will get out of control," said Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state.

At least diplomatically. All of that changed when Kissinger orchestrated a meeting between President Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong in 1972 - triggering a thawing of relations after a 25-year freeze.

But with the election of Donald Trump there are worries about the future of that relationship. Trump has vowed to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. He's also said he will hit Chinese imports with 45 percent tariffs.

Greenberg, who was at the helm of AIG when it became one of the first foreign insurance companies given access to China, is advocating a free trade agreement between the two nations.

"I think we should have one. It would benefit both countries and solve a lot of problems and both countries are big enough obviously to support a free trade agreement. It won't be easy to negotiate but these things never are. It'll take time. But better understanding the flow from just the negotiations - I would urge that the new administration here would pursue that," Greenberg said.

And there are other areas of tension including the controversial phone call Trump accepted from the leader of Taiwan, which has raised concerns about Trump's commitment to the one China policy, which has been the bedrock of U.S./China relations for decades.

Trump's approach to diplomacy is rattling some countries.

"The situation that we find ourselves in now is of historic magnitude. It's of crucial importance that they start off the right way on the bases of respect for each other's fundamental concerns," Kissinger said.

Many in the diplomatic community acknowledge Trump's inexperience as a world leader but come inauguration day in January, they hope he will take a measured approach to a vital relationship with China.