World

Kissinger warns US-China trade war could turn to armed conflict

BEIJING: Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned yesterday that an armed conflict could break out between the US and China if they fail to resolve their trade war.

The sober remarks from Mr Kissinger, who was instrumental in normalising diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing, came at a conference in Beijing on the future of the two economic giants.

"If conflict is permitted to run unconstrained, the outcome could be even worse than it was in Europe," he said at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum.

China and the US have been caught in a trade dispute for 18 months. Beijing has also lashed out at Washington over US naval operations in the disputed South China Sea, US criticism of China's mass detention of ethnic Uighurs and US Congress support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

"China is a major economic country. And so are we," Mr Kissinger, 96, said. "And so we are bound to step on each other's toes all over the world."

He said during the Cold War between the US and Soviet Union, a plan to reduce the nuclear capacity of both countries was a top priority.

But because conflicts between the US and China have always been "passive", there is no framework for Washington to deal with Beijing as a "military power".

If the two sides keep seeing "every issue in the world in terms of conflict" with each other, it could be "dangerous for mankind", he said.

Asked if unrest in Hong Kong could be the "flashpoint" for a new Cold War, Mr Kissinger said he hoped the "highly emotional" issue would be "settled by negotiations". - AFP

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