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Americans gather to mourn Bush, an old friend of China

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    09:35, December 06, 2018

George H.W. Bush poses with his wife at Tian'anmen Square after a bike ride in Beijing in 1974.

Americans gathered on Wednesday to mourn the death of George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, who passed away at age 94 on November 30, 2018.

Bush was born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, United States. He served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993. He was a former member of the House of Representatives and subsequently served as the US ambassador to the United Nations, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and vice president under Ronald Reagan for two terms.

Bush attached great importance to relations with China. As head of the US Liaison Office in China and later in his role as president of the United States, Bush made great efforts to develop China-US relations.

Bush had fond feelings for China

The relationship between Bush and China dates back to 1971. This was the year that US President Richard Nixon appointed the then 47-year-old Bush as ambassador to the United Nations and it was during this period that the People’s Republic of China restored its rightful place at the United Nations.

Ten years later, when Bush recalled the matter, he said the restoration of China’s rightful place at the United Nations was a turning point in the history of the United Nations. He thought opening the door for China at the United Nations and establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing was a far-sighted and wise move.

In 1974, Bush and his wife, Barbara, came to Beijing, where George served as head of the US Liaison Office in China for 13 months. Later, Bush said that he thought that China would become a strong country and a vital member of the international community.

After coming to China, the couple developed a strong interest in Chinese culture. Later, they made a serious effort at studying Chinese language. Bush said that he had deep feelings for Chinese culture and for China.

During his time as head of the US Liaison Office in China, Bush and his wife often explored the streets of Beijing on bicycle and the pair became known as the “bicycle-riding envoy.”

During his time in Beijing, Bush twice met Chairman Mao Zedong. The first time was in 1974, while accompanying US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and the other time was with US President Gerald Ford, who visited China in 1975.

In 1976, Bush was appointment to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. Before Bush and his wife, Barbara, left Beijing, Deng Xiaoping hosted a farewell dinner for them. In 1979, China and the United States formally established diplomatic relations. Later, during Deng Xiaoping’s visit to the United States, the Chinese leader visited the couple in Texas.

In 1980, after Ronald Reagan received the Republican nomination, he selected Bush as his running mate. In 1988, Bush was elected as the 41st president of the United States.

From February 25 to 26, 1989, Bush paid a working visit to China as president of the United States, just one month after being sworn in as president. It was his fifth visit to China since 1975 and he became the fastest American president to embark on an official visit to China. A working visit to China just one month after assuming office showed the importance that he placed on China. Bush saw US-China relations as one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world.

After his presidential term ended, the relationship between Bush and China remained strong and he made frequent trips to China. Bush had great feelings for China, cherished his friendship with Chinese leaders, and cared about the development of US-China relations. In the George H.W. Bush Library Center, Bush has prominently displayed his connections to China, including his photos with Chinese leaders, as well as the bicycle he often rode in Beijing as head of the US Liaison Office in China.

Even in old age he loved to skydive

Bush dared to try new things. Until old age, he would sometimes make headlines for his “awesome” feats.

The first time Bush jumped out of a plane was during his time as a pilot for the US Navy in September 1944. His plane was hit by Japanese ground fire and caught fire, so Bush bailed out over the ocean for survival.

Later in life, Bush would sometimes celebrate his birthday with a parachute jump. He made a parachute jump at the age of 75 and then again for this 80th, 85th, and 90th birthdays. “Old guys can do neat things,” he said.

On June 12, 2014, the former US president celebrated his 90th birthday by jumping out of a helicopter at about 6,000 feet while harnessed to a retired member of the Golden Knights, the US Army’s parachute team, celebrating after a hard landing.

Bush was the final president to have served in World War II. In December 1941, shortly after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Bush, who had just graduated from high school, was enlisted by the US Navy to serve as a torpedo bomber pilot in the Pacific theater. He was the youngest Navy pilot at that time. He received an honorable discharge in September 1945, with 1,228 hours of flight time, 126 carrier landings, and 358 combat missions. After returning home, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

On June 12, 2018, Bush celebrated his 94th birthday with his family at his home in Kennebunkport, Maine, United States. His wife, Barbara, passed away in April 2018 at age 92. The couple celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary at the beginning of the year, making them the longest-married couple in American presidential history.

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(Web editor: Bianji, Wu Chengliang)

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