Thursday, October 02, 2008

Made in China

Jeffrey Engel argues that George H.W. Bush’s presidency was made in China in his article. Bush saw China as very important to world politics:
Bush arguably knew China better than any other American President, having served as Washington’s top diplomat in China during the mid-1970s. While in the White House he famously served as “his own China Desk Officer,” that is, as his own resident expert on all facets of the complex yet vital Sino-American relationship. China held the key to a peaceful 21st century, he argued throughout this time in office (and after), and American officials should take every opportunity possible to warm relations with Chinese policymakers and progressive forces alike.
Bush’s time in China taught him important lessons that helped him in his neogotiations when China during trying time:
These lessons bore fruit during Bush’s Presidency. They can be witnessed in his response to the Tiananmen crackdown, when he ignored calls from both sides of the political spectrum to sever ties with Beijing. He chose instead to contact privately his old friend, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, a man he had met in 1974, using their friendship as a lifeline to rescue Sino-American relations from rocky shoals. Upon flying to China for the first time in October of 1974, Bush admitted to his diary that “it is my hope that I will be able to meet the next generation of China’s leaders, whoever they may prove to be.” Fifteen years later, when faced with the Tiananmen crisis, he wrote Deng a personal letter, one shown only to his closest advisers. “I wanted a letter straight from my heart,” Bush later explained, “so I composed it myself.” Their two nations needed to preserve their relationship, Bush told Deng. But his plea should carry extra weight because of their long-standing friendship. Some have criticized Bush for being too friendly with the architects of the Tiananmen massacre. Yet the crucial point is not to judge what Bush did, but rather to understand that everything he did during those trying weeks in 1989, he consciously did because of his own personal experience with China and its leaders. As he related to his diary the midst of the crisis, events were “highly complex, yet I am determined to try to preserve this relationship—[and to] cool the rhetoric….I take this relationship very personally, and I want to handle it that way.” He said much the same during a 2005 interview, noting that his personal relationship with Deng deeply informed the policies he pursued. “Had I not met the man,” Bush said, “I think I would have been less convinced that we should keep relations with them going after Tiananmen Square.”

With this article we can really explore how important Bush’s time in China was and how well he handled the foreign situation there.

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