Veteran US statesman Henry Kissinger has offered a stark warning of the apocalyptic dangers facing the world if conflict erupted between the US and China.
Kissinger told the McCain Institute’s Sedona Forum on global issues Friday that strained relations with China are “the biggest problem for America, the biggest problem for the world,” reported the AFP.
“Because if we can’t solve that, then the risk is that all over the world, a kind of cold war will develop between China and the United States.”
He told the forum that while nuclear weapons during the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union had had the capacity to inflict vast damage, that capacity for destruction was exceeded by nuclear technology and artificial intelligence capabilities the US and China now have at their disposal.
“For the first time in human history, humanity has the capacity to extinguish itself in a finite period of time,” Kissinger said.
“We have developed the technology of a power that is beyond what anybody imagined even 70 years ago.”
“And now, to the nuclear issue is added the high tech issue, which in the field of artificial intelligence, in its essence is based on the fact that man becomes a partner of machines and that machines can develop their own judgement,” he said.
“So in a military conflict between high-tech powers, it’s of colossal significance.”
He said that while the Soviet Union had vast military might during the Cold War, China had greater economic strength and technological expertise.
“The Soviet Union had no economic capacity. They had military technological capacity,” he said.
“(They) didn’t have developmental technological capacity as China does. China is a huge economic power in addition to being a significant military power.”
Kissinger served as secretary of state to President Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford between 1973 and 1977. He was the architect of the strategy that saw the US improve its relations with China as part of a bid to drive a wedge between the country and its erstwhile Communist ally, Russia.
The 97 year-old is regarded as one of the most influential figures in foreign policy in the last 50 years, though is reviled for some over US military policy during the Vietnam War and its support of right-wing dictatorships in South America during the 1970s.
Under President Donald Trump, relations with China worsened, with the nations imposing a series of economic sanctions on each other. President Joe Biden has maintained the US’ hawkish stance towards China, with a recent meeting between US and Chinese diplomats in Alaska resulting in mutual recriminations.