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Henry Kissinger said Mao Zedong was the "most dangerous" leader he met during his political career.
Kissinger cited the 90 million deaths under Mao's regime.
Kissinger played a pivotal role in easing tensions with China during the Nixon administration.
Henry Kissinger said the "most dangerous" leader he met during his time in the Nixon administration was Chairman Mao Zedong, the leader of China.
The Secretary of State made the comments last month to Mathias Döpfner, who is the CEO of Axel Springer, Business Insider's parent company.
The conversation would turn out to be his last major interview — Kissinger died on Wednesday aged 100.
Kissinger cited the 90 million deaths perpetrated under Mao's leadership to justify his choice.
Mao "would kill what was needed to achieve his objectives," he said.
Kissinger met the Chinese leader when he served as a national security advisor to Richard Nixon in 1972, at a time of easing tensions between the US and China.
He made secret visits to China in 1970 and 1971, which culminated in Nixon's meeting with Mao in 1972.
During his 27 years in power, Mao presided over a series of campaigns and reforms that killed an estimated 90 million people, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
In 1958, Mao launched the "Great Leap Forward" to transform the country's agrarian economy into an industrialized one. The resulting famine would lead to the deaths of tens of millions of people between 1958 and 1962.
Under the Nixon administration, Kissinger played an instrumental role in easing tensions between the two countries, and he is still remembered fondly in China.
Kissinger met with China's current leader, Xi Jinping, in Beijing in July. Xi praised Kissinger's legacy, calling him an "old friend," as Business Insider reported.
China's ambassador to the US, Xie Feng, said on X on Wednesday that Kissinger will "always remain alive in the hearts of the Chinese people as a most valued old friend."
Read the original article on Business Insider