Beijing's foreign ministry on Thursday hailed the late US diplomat Henry Kissinger for his "historic contributions" to China-US ties, describing him as an "old and good friend of the Chinese people".

Kissinger "had long been concerned about and supported the development of China-US relations, visiting China more than a hundred times and making historic contributions to promote the normalisation of China-US relations", foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

"During his life, Dr. Kissinger attached great importance to China-US relations and believed that they were vital to the peace and prosperity of the two countries and the world," Wang said.

Kissinger, a former US secretary of state whose unapologetic promotion of raw American power helped shape the post-World War II world, died on Wednesday.

In China he is granted the sobriquet of "old friend of the Chinese people" for his part in establishing ties in the 1970s and helping bring the country out of its Mao-era isolation.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who met Kissinger in Beijing in July, has sent a message of condolence to US President Joe Biden over his death, Wang said.

Premier Li Qiang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi have also sent messages of condolence, he added.

"Both China and the United States should inherit and carry forward Dr. Kissinger's strategic vision, political courage, and diplomatic wisdom," Wang said.

That meant the two countries should "adhere to mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation in accordance with the important consensus", he added.