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Son pays tribute to father's role in promoting links with Beijing

By MAY ZHOU | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-05 07:53
Bush and his son, George W. Bush, join swimmers Michael Phelps (right) and Larsen Jensen in 2008. [Photo/Agencies]

Neil Bush paid this tribute to his father, former US president George H. W. Bush, on his Facebook account:

"Maria (his wife) and I are so grateful for the outpouring of love expressed by many friends regarding the passing of my amazing father. Dad was a kind, humble, caring, gentle, wonderful human being who showed us how to be points of light, living good lives through service to others."

He also mentioned his father's role in promoting relations between the United States and China: "His legacy will live on through the George H. W. Bush China US Relations Foundation in promoting respectful, collaborative relations ... This bilateral relationship has brought great benefit to both sides."

In an interview with China Daily in August, Neil Bush said: "My dad has maintained all his adult life after serving in Beijing as chief liaison officer for 14 months that he learned a lot about China. He often said the US-China relationship is the most important bilateral one in the world."

He added that "personal relations were critical to the success of dad's diplomacy".

Neil Bush visited Beijing with his siblings when his father was serving in the city.

"We went for four weeks in the summer of 1975, overlapping with July 4. We stayed in Beijing for three weeks, then went to Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuxi. My mom took us on a train ride and we ended up on The Bund in Shanghai. It was very different then and an interesting experience."

They rode bikes, just like their parents, everywhere they went in China. The iconic photo of the Bush couple riding their bikes in front of Tian'anmen Square was used as the family Christmas card in 1975.

Actress Lily Chen, better known as Chen Ye in China, and her husband Charles Foster were friends of George H. W. Bush for decades.

Chen took her son and parents to lay flowers at a sculpture of the former president in downtown Houston, Texas, when she heard he had died. The sculpture was Foster's idea.

Foster began to develop a significant relationship with Bush due to a shared interest in Sino-US ties when Bush settled in Houston after leaving the White House. He said Bush was always polite and unfailingly a gentleman in terms of how he treated people.

Chen got to know him on a more personal level. When Foster first had the idea of building a statue of Bush, he did not receive a clear answer for months.

At a reception, Chen sat next to Bush, and asked him: "Mr President, Charles wants to make a statue of you for Houston. How come you don't give them permission?"

Her directness drew an immediate response. Bush said: "Damn it, I can't say yes; I'm still alive. If they want to do it, go ahead, don't ask me."

Chen added: "Charles and president Bush were both too polite and they got stuck. I helped them to get over that."

She also helped Bush to track down his favorite Peking Duck chef in Houston.

When he was in Beijing, Bush developed a taste for the dish, and in the 1990s the Quanjude Beijing Roast Duck chain opened a restaurant in Houston.

"I immediately told him about it. He dined there a couple of times and liked the chef a lot. However, later the chef went to another Chinese restaurant," Chen said.

Bush later told her, "Lily, you have to keep tracking the chef and let me know where he is."

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