Taiwan’s reaction to Henry Kissinger’s death last Wednesday has been muted, illustrating the ambivalence toward the larger-than-life American diplomat in the island democracy that he himself never saw as distinct from China.
Lawmaker Lo Chih-cheng of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, an international relations scholar, told reporters on Thursday that the former United States secretary of state and national security adviser played a key role in the development of U.S.-China relations, but did not comment on how Kissinger impacted Taiwan.
Comments from the main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT) — which ruled Taiwan as a military dictatorship when Kissinger began his overture to Beijing in the 1970s — have been more revealing. Lawmaker Chen I-hsin, a diplomatic expert, said that Kissinger’s determination to establish a relationship with Beijing led to Washington’s eventual derecognition of Taipei. However, he also added that the late diplomat’s focus on achieving world peace would be “an inspiration to Taiwan” given the current U.S.-China rivalry.