Kissinger’s last mission: China sends condolences to Biden for loss of ‘valued friend old’ to Beijing – months after the 100-year-old towering diplomat met Xi Jinping in one of his final trips

China sent glowing condolences to Joe Biden following the death of Henry Kissinger, who was regarded in Beijing as a diplomatic “pioneer” and someone who “understood” the country’s role in the world.

Kissinger visited China more than 100 times and his death on Wednesday at the age of 100 sparked widespread mourning among ordinary Chinese people on social media and respectful coverage in state media.

He made a final surprise trip to Beijing in July to meet with Xi Jinping, just as senior Biden administration officials were being turned away and granted only lower-grade audiences.

Kissinger, who was already 100 years old at the time, was warmly greeted by Xi as an “old friend.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, talks with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, July 20, 2023

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and former US National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during a policy speech to Chinese and US CEOs at a dinner reception in Seattle, Washington, US, September 22, 2015

When he arrived, relations between Washington and Beijing had fallen to a new low.

In February, a Chinese spy balloon hovered over the US and was shot down.

Around the same time, Kissinger visited Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen went to Beijing, but Xi did not meet with them.

Alfred Wu, a professor at the National University of Singapore, said Kissinger was portrayed in China as “forward-looking” and as someone who had “good will to ease tensions between two countries.”

His last mission to China came more than a half century after his groundbreaking visit in 1971, when he was President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser.

That paved the way for Nixon’s own historic visit the following year, after a 20-year diplomatic freeze between Washington and Beijing.

After Kissinger’s death, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “Dr. Kissinger was a good old friend of the Chinese people. He is a pioneer and builder of Sino-American relations.

A giant screen outside a shopping mall shows coverage of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on July 20, 2023

“China and the US should carry forward Kissinger’s strategic vision, political courage and diplomatic wisdom and promote the healthy, stable and sustainable development of China-US relations.”

Kissinger made “historic” progress and China praised him for his “sincere commitment” to diplomacy, Wang added.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang sent condolence messages to Kissinger’s family and to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Brian Wong, a geopolitical strategist at the University of Hong Kong, said Kissinger was seen in China as “someone in America who understood the Chinese people.”