The Chinese internet lamented the death of Henry Kissinger death on Wednesday.
But they're mourning more than just the man — they also miss what he represented in US diplomacy.
Topics on Kissinger skyrocketed to the top charts of Weibo just hours after his death.
Henry Kissinger is dead at the age of 100, and the Chinese internet is beside itself.
Just four hours after his death was announced, topics on Kissinger hit a whopping 660 million combined view count on Weibo, China's version of Twitter.
On Xiaohongshu, a rising new platform akin to a cross between Instagram and TikTok, Chinese commentators are posting glowing tributes to the former US diplomat.
"Old friends are dying, like leaves in the wind," wrote one Weibo user in a top comment, referencing a line attributed to the ancient Chinese warlord Cao Cao.
The poetic saying underscores the deeper sentiment in China toward Kissinger's death — Cao Cao supposedly uttered the words in mourning at the tomb of Guan Yu, a renowned enemy general who was so famous he is still worshipped as a god of war today.
Cao Cao's fabled respect for his longtime enemy bears a striking similarity to how China has typically viewed Kissinger, as a mighty servant for a rival superpower who opened the road to mutual benefit.
Kissinger, who visited China at least 100 times, has been touted as an American heavyweight diplomat who stuck by wisdom and compromise, as Washington now wages what Beijing paints as a bizarre attack on its economy and sovereignty.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping even called him an "old friend of the Chinese people" when Kissinger visited China in July.
Tributes for both men have poured into Weibo, though Kissinger — who is a controversial figure in the rest of the world — is now receiving the lion's share of attention.
Munger was respected for his immense wealth and his recognition of China's achievements, while Kissinger is seen as an icon for playing America's role in ushering prosperity and modernity into China.
Both men also lived long lives, an admired trait that's been repeatedly mentioned on Weibo.
"A participant, promoter, and founder of Sino-US relations," one blogger wrote of Kissinger, posting emojis of candles.
"I can't help but lament the passing of this era where heroes were born in large numbers," wrote another.
It's here that "old friends are dying, like leaves in the wind" strikes another parallel. An aging Cao Cao was said to be grieving over a fading epoch of heroes, when he and rival warlords rose to power in a legendary narrative that's as famed in China as the Nativity is in the US.
Kissinger, in the same vein, represented a bygone era when the US was more invested in benefiting from China's growth than curbing its potential dominance.
He had traveled to China in secret to arrange for Cold War-era meetings between then-President Richard Nixon and China's leaders, which made history in the early 1970s.
The former State Secretary's death has risen to become the number 1 topic on Weibo as of Thursday afternoon Beijing time, with nearly half a million views on news of his passing alone, per data seen by Business Insider.
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