Diplomat key in forging US-China ties

Xiong Xianghui, a former assistant to Chinese premier Zhou Enlai who was involved in the rapprochement between Beijing and Washington in the early 1970s, has died of lung cancer, state media reported on Tuesday. He was 86.

Xiong died on Friday and an official funeral was to be held on Tuesday at Babaoshan Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery in Beijing, the government said.

Xiong served as secretary to a top government committee that advised chairman Mao Zedong to engage the United States as a bulwark against potential Soviet aggression in the early 1970s, according to historical documents.

He also helped organize US national security adviser Henry Kissinger’s covert China trip in 1971 and former US president Richard Nixon’s historic visit in 1972, the official China Daily newspaper reported.

The newspaper called Xiong a ”colourful character” who served as Chinese charge d’affairs to Britain between 1962 and 1971 and ambassador to Mexico from 1972 to 1973.

It said that Xiong was a communist spy who worked as an assistant to Hu Zongnan, the commander in chief of rival nationalist armed forces, before the 1949 communist revolution. — Sapa-AP

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