xi's moments

How Bush drew China, US closer

By CHEN WEIHUA | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-12-05 23:33

The Bushes celebrated Chinese New Year in Houston in 2016. WANG HUAN / CHINA NEWS SERVICE

Bush, who wanted to build more contacts, went against the instruction, becoming a fixture on the diplomatic scene. His schedules included many meetings, dinners and sports events with counterparts from different countries.

He did not realize that the friends he made in the mid-'70s would one day be leading China at the same time he became US president. He described the friendship he made with Deng Xiaoping as very valuable during his presidency, especially at the end of the 1980s when relations hit rock bottom.

While taking some criticism back home for not being tough on China, Bush believed he made the right call, and his long history with Deng and the other leaders made it possible for the two governments to work through crises without derailing China-US relations.

"I was a big believer then, and still am, that personal diplomacy can be very useful and productive," he wrote.

The Bushes kept traveling to China over the decades, including 22 visits after his presidency. They witnessed the country's great transformation. Bush liked to quote his wife as saying, "Over the years, through our many visits to China, we've seen the country go from black and white to Technicolor".

Bush returned to China in August 2008 as honorary captain of the US Olympic team.

"It will be one of the greatest thrills of my life to help represent my country, which I love so much, in a country that over time I have grown to admire and respect," he wrote in the preface to his diaries, which were published some months before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"And yes, I love the Chinese people. One of my dreams for our world is that these two powerful giants will continue working toward a full partnership and friendship that will help bring peace and prosperity to people everywhere."

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