On May 27, 2023, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger celebrates his 100th birthday. However, compared to a milestone birthday, the news of this diplomatic elder statesman still being alive and actively engaged in international politics might be even more surprising.
Kissinger’s life experiences are legendary. On May 26, Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Xie Feng, met with former Secretary of State Kissinger in Kent County, Connecticut, expressing China’s congratulations on his 100th birthday. The two sides had in-depth discussions on China-U.S. relations and international regional issues of common concern.
He is the son of German Jewish refugees, a U.S. soldier who fought in Germany during World War II, and a post-war professor at Harvard University. As the U.S. National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, Kissinger was also one of the most important diplomats of the second half of the 20th century.
Renowned journalist Tom Brokaw once said that even James Bond would appear dull next to Henry Kissinger. “Bond can shoot, fight, and jump off speeding cars. Kissinger can’t do any of those things, but he can advise on starting a war, bringing about a ceasefire, claim he can change the fate of the world, and he actually did change the fate of the world.”
During the eight years from 1969 to 1977, Kissinger held key positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations, achieving notable diplomatic accomplishments such as the normalization of relations between China and the U.S., the ceasefire in the Vietnam War, and U.S.-Soviet détente.
At that time, he humorously remarked, “There cannot be a crisis next week, my schedule is already full.”
Kissinger’s political influence waned in the later years of the Ford administration. After stepping down as Secretary of State, he founded a multinational consulting firm in New York, continuing to engage with people who sought to shape the world. He was also invited to the White House by multiple U.S. presidents for meetings.
Approaching his twilight years, Kissinger has undergone more than one heart surgery and has faced challenges such as hearing loss and partial blindness. However, he has no intention of retiring as a politician consigned to history textbooks.
He still works nearly 15 hours a day, writing books, giving interviews, attending conferences, and sharing his valuable insights from the past with the world.
After all, when it comes to dealing with the stalemates between nuclear superpowers, he may have more experience than any other living individual.