As an honoured guest speaker at the China Sciences and Humanities Forum in
Beijing yesterday, former US president George H.W. Bush recalled his first
parachute jump over the Pacific Ocean during World War II and his bicycle rides
with his wife Barbara in Beijing's hutongs more than 30 years ago.
Bush Snr said he had plans to do another parachute jump in June and hoped a
student from the packed audience in the auditorium of the Graduate University of
the Chinese Academy of Sciences would join him.
The 800 students and faculty members applauded Bush not only for his humour
but also for his personal view on US-China relations in his words "a friend of
China," or "lao peng you."
China and US relationships are what he believed to be "the most important
bilateral relationship that will affect peace and prosperity in the 21st Century
for all of you and students like you in America," he said, adding now that he is
retired, he could speak candidly about the challenges facing both China and the
Calling the ongoing US-China Economic Strategic Dialogue "breathtaking," he
also pointed out that "in the spirit of friendship and respect," it was
important for China as well as the US to address the causes of the huge trade
imbalance, such as by increasing domestic demand, protecting intellectual
property rights and making the exchange rate more flexible.
"These steps are critical," he said, as he was most worried that "some of the
leaders are anti-free trade; and more for protectionism."
He said they wanted to address the trade imbalance with legislation that
"violates free and fair trade."
On regional security, he said China and the US should stand together against
the spread of nuclear weapons.
He noted that "Chinese leaders play a constructive role on the world stage."
"I know the fundamental decency of China," he said.
He said he was aware of China's donations to tsunami-ravaged areas of
Indonesia and its constructive role in relief efforts in Southeast Asia.
"This kind of multilateral approach by China would not be possible 30 years
ago, as it was the way China operated in those days," he said.
This multilateral co-operation was very "vitally important," he said, as
countries work closely together on various fronts to fight terrorism, ensure
regional stability and deal with global warming and environmental issues.
"I see our two nations working together on overlapping issues and am
confident we can make real progress in improving the quality of life for the
citizens not only of our two countries but throughout Asia and the global
community," he said.
(China Daily 12/15/2006 page2)