Listen to Henry Kissinger, China State Media Chief Warns Joe Biden

A Chinese state newspaper has urged President-elect Joe Biden to listen to Henry Kissinger, who warned Monday that U.S.-China relations could "slide into a catastrophe comparable to World War I."

Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of Chinese Communist Party publication Global Times, wrote Tuesday that Beijing was "making physical and psychological preparations for a U.S.-initiated war."

The editorial was written the day after 97-year-old Kissinger spoke at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, where he urged the incoming Biden administration to quickly work to find common ground with China's President Xi Jinping.

"The United States and China have never faced countries of a magnitude that is roughly equal with the other. This is the first experience, and we must avoid it turning into conflict," the veteran national security advisor told Bloomberg.

"I think we're in the mountain passes now [of a cold war]. It's a progress that should not continue," he added. "The danger is that some crisis will occur that will go beyond rhetoric into actual military conflict."

The former secretary of state under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford stressed the importance of re-establishing communications and suggested the assigning of trusted officials to maintain such contact between Washington and Beijing.

"I'm not saying that we and China will live with a consciousness of harmony," Kissinger explained. "I am saying that there will always be stresses and tensions, but the question is, is there a direction in which we can cooperate?"

"There will be other issues on which we will differ, but unless there is some basis for some cooperative action, the world will slide into a catastrophe comparable to World War I."

He warned that a military conflict would be "more difficult to control," given the technologies available to world powers today compared to 1914.

The Global Times chief editor agreed with Kissinger and appeared to use the opportunity to warn the next White House occupant about the future of U.S.-China relations.

"I want to clearly tell the U.S. and Westerners that China really does not want conflict with the U.S., but many Chinese people are becoming more and more pessimistic," Hu wrote. "They believe that the U.S. wants to stifle China's development and will continue to provoke China in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea."

"Some regional allies will cooperate with the U.S. in doing so. To be precise, the Chinese are making physical and psychological preparations for a U.S.-initiated war," he said, issuing a clear warning of his own on behalf of the Chinese government.

U.S. foreign policy under Biden is expected to follow that of the last decade and continue with a focus on East Asia and China in particular, but his method will likely differ greatly from that of President Trump's more combative approach.

Restoring ties with Beijing while delivering on a promise to take China to task on issues such as human rights and regional expansion will be the former vice president's biggest challenge upon his return to the White House.

He will also have to contend with the aftermath of any further punitive measures the Trump administration chooses to take against China during the transition period.

The president's latest executive order, which prohibits U.S. investment in 31 Chinese companies with ties to the People's Liberation Army, only comes into effect on January 11 and will be hard to instantly overturn.

During Monday's Bloomberg New Economy Forum, Kissinger, who attended via a video call, described Trump's way of negotiation as "confrontational."

He suggested the tactic was not sustainable but also thought Biden's idea of a so-called "coalition of democracies" against China was ill-advised.

"I think democracies should cooperate wherever their convictions allow it or dictate it," Kissinger said. "I think a coalition aimed at a particular country is unwise, but a coalition to prevent dangers is necessary where the occasion requires it."

Henry Kissinger Wang Yi
File photo: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) alongside former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger (R). Jason Lee-Pool/Getty Images