by Xinhua writers Guan Xinguo, Wang Fan
NEW YORK, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) — The United States has attached great importance to the upcoming state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping and expects it to be a great success, veteran diplomat Henry Kissinger has said.
"The associates of the two presidents have engaged in intense negotiations and discussions for many months on this forthcoming visit," Kissinger, a former U.S. secretary of state, told Xinhua in a recent interview in his New York office.
Kissinger said he is very optimistic that the two sides could chalk up major achievements during Xi's visit and that the two countries could make progress in their relations.
During phone talks in February, Xi accepted U.S. President Barack Obama's invitation for a state visit, his first to the United States since he assumed the Chinese presidency in March 2013.
Kissinger said he believes the atmosphere of relations will significantly improve as a result of Xi's visit.
As China and the United States, the world's two largest economies, have knitted an increasingly close web of ties in trade over past decades, the bilateral trade relationship is expected be on agenda of meetings between Xi and Obama.
Currently, high hopes are pinned on securing a breakthrough in a bilateral investment treaty, which will serve as the cornerstone for their economic relationship.
"I know they have been discussing intensely about the bilateral investment treaty. The secretary of treasury (Jacob Lew) has been in direct negotiations," Kissinger said. "My impression is that progress is being made and I hope this is going to be one of the results (of Xi's visit)."
The 92-year-old diplomat, who enjoys high esteem for his career achievements in foreign affairs, shared his wisdom on how Washington and Beijing could better handle their differences on issues such as cybersecurity and the South China Sea.
"On the issue of cybersecurity, it is just totally a new issue in the history of nations," he said, adding that neither the United States nor China has real experience in the issue or has found a way to negotiate about that.
"It is a profound problem in which we have to understand first mutually to educate ourselves about what the problem is and then maybe see what we can do about it," he noted.
Recently, tensions surrounding the South China Sea caused a number of hiccups in bilateral ties, prompting many to view the issue as a very tricky one. But Kissinger is optimistic that the two countries could in the end find a way to fix it.
"I think I have now seen Sino-American relations in its … 45 years. And we have occasionally come up against problems," he said. "… On the South China Sea, my opinion is that we should deal with it as a pragmatic problem not as a philosophical one and try to solve individual issue."
"For example, Americans are concerned about freedom of navigation. China does not object to freedom of navigation. So it is conceivable to me that we will come to some agreement on this to separate the territorial issue from the freedom of navigation issue and then deal with other issues step by step," Kissinger said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that China has the same concern as other countries over freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and that China is willing to work with other parties in maintaining freedom of navigation and flyover in the area.
As a trailblazer for U.S.-China ties whose clandestine, ice-breaking visit to China in 1971 paved the way for the establishment of diplomatic relations, Kissinger witnessed the impressive changes China has undergone over the past decades.
"I have actually seen the progress of China, and I have seen more China than anyone below 50 in China, so I know what the Chinese people can do," he said.
Recalling his contact with Xi, Kissinger said: "I had very good fortune of meeting President Xi when he was (party) secretary in Shanghai and when he was vice president (of China). And now I've met him several times in his capacity as president."
"He is a man of great philosophical depth, who reflects on problems in an overall way," he said.
Later this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to pay his first state visit to the United States since he took office in 2013. Xinhua is wiring a series of in-depth stories on China-U.S. relations and the historic visit.