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Analysis: American Dynastic Diplomacy

US President George W. Bush waves from Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, 14 November 2005. Bush is travelling to Alaska before heading to Japan, and then the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum summit in South Korea, followed by a visit to China and finally Mongolia. AFP photo by Jim Watson.

Beijing (UPI) Nov 15, 2005
Former U.S. president George H.W. Bush told an audience in Beijing Monday that when it comes to American ties with China, "We can't afford to get it wrong now."

The 41st president (father of the current president George W. Bush) made the comment delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony of "China-U.S Relations: Trade, Diplomacy and Research" a four-day conference and technical roundtable analysts see as an effort to lay positive groundwork and atmosphere for his son's official state visit to China on Nov. 19-21.

"There is no more important bilateral relationship than the one between the United States and China," Bush said. Ties, he added, had "never been better." The ex-president, now 81 years old, noted this was his 14th trip to China since leaving office.

The Bush family has played a significant role in the development of U.S.-China diplomacy for the last three decades, going back to 1974-1975 when Bush senior headed up the liaison office serving as de facto American embassy in Beijing prior to the full normalization of relations in 1979. Both men in this American political dynasty have faced difficult challenges in dealing with China.

Diplomatic historians note the George H. W. Bush presidency (1989-1993) navigated Sino-U.S. ties through the lowest point in bilateral relations. Bush first visited China less than a month after taking office. A dinner invitation to Fang Lizhi, an astrophysicist and vocal human rights advocate, hosted by the president ended in a diplomatic incident after Chinese security authorities barred Fang from attending.

The Tiananmen Massacre, a brutal crackdown of the Chinese pro-democracy movement in June 1989, resulted in widespread American outrage against the mainland including a halt to high level visits and an arms embargo which still remains in place 16 years later. At the time, Bush sent national security advisor Brent Scowcroft on a secret mission to Beijing in July 1989 to keep bilateral links alive.

Scowcroft accompanied the former president on his current mission to China. At the opening ceremony in Beijing Monday he said "economic and commercial relations are developing faster than political relations," and that "closing the gap is an objective of the conference."

The 43rd president, George W. Bush, like his father, also started his term of office with a crisis in China relations. The collision of an American EP-3 surveillance plane with a Chinese fighter over the South China Sea in April 2001 froze bilateral ties that thawed only after Beijing's public support against terrorism following Sept. 11.

The president has visited China twice since taking office, first in October 2001 for a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Shanghai then Beijing in February 2002 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Richard Nixon's breakthrough visit in 1972.

Analysts see the administration's agenda for upcoming trip to the PRC as a combination of political and economic objectives designed to diffuse growing discontent at home with a rising China. President Bush will raise currency revaluation and improved intellectual property rights as ways to address frictions the mounting trade deficit between the two countries expected to pass the $200 billion dollar mark by the end of 2005. China's human rights record and Taiwan are likely to top political discussions.

The remarks of the Chinese keynote speaker at Monday's opening ceremony, former Foreign Minister and Vice-Premier Qian Qichen, offered a clear outline of the PRC's three priorities for the Bush visit. First is correcting what it sees as a misperception that China's rise is at America's expense.

Second is that any problem can be addressed by deepening bilateral dialog on a basis of equality and mutual respect. Third is making sure the United States understands that Taiwan is the core fundamental interest at the heart of the relationship which is jeopardized by any further weapons sales to the island.

One characteristic of both Bush presidencies is a strong commitment to enhancing the range of engagement with China in the political, economic and academic spheres.

The event is hosted by the Chinese People's Association with Foreign Countries, Texas A&M University and its George Bush School of Government and Public Service plus the Bush Presidential Library, also located on the College Station campus.

There are eight plenary sessions during the first two days of the event delving into the following topics: Sino-U.S. relations in the global context; security issues in the Asia-Pacific region; bilateral economic and trade ties; future challenges in energy and sustainable development, scientific and technological cooperation; culture, education and people-to people diplomacy; agricultural research and collaboration; and shared strategies on prevention and combating infectious diseases.

This will be followed by 16 technical roundtable discussions Nov. 16-17 dealing with agricultural, biotechnology, energy, environmental, health policy, information technology, intellectual property, medicine, public policy, and urbanization issues.

Several prominent government officials and key business leaders including Ambassador Rob Portman, U.S. trade representative; U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary David A. Sampson and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will speak at the conference.

Major corporate support for the event is being provided by ExxonMobil, the China National Petroleum Corporation, China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, Sprint Nextel Corporation, FedEx, IBM, Microsoft China, Caterpillar, and the Tianjin Economic Technological Development Area.

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Hu Says Stronger China Means Peace, Stability
Hanoi (AFP) Nov 01, 2005
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday tried to calm fears in Asia about Beijing's growing might but left no doubt that China intends to re-balance a unipolar world dominated by the United States.

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