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Through Chinese Eyes

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How Chinese Leadership Viewed The Bush Visit


By James Donahue

December 2005


With a new low in American approval ratings and having just been “battered by a decidedly hostile reception in Latin America,” a Chinese newspaper noted that “a mellower and gentler President George W. Bush” came to China last month with a more conciliatory message.


The editorial in China Daily said that it did not go unnoticed that Bush suggested in a speech in Japan that China should look upon Taiwan as a model for democracy and freedom. It also was noted that Bush “gave a subtle signal about the need for more religious freedom in China by attending a Protestant church service.”


The writer then said: “Alas, both the president and the media entourage showed dismaying flaws in their understanding of China.”


We must wonder if Mr. Bush thought the Chinese people watching him were stupid. Unfortunately, his own lack of intellect was his own undoing, and it made America all the more the fool for sending him as our representative to China.


The report noted that the Bush reference to Taiwan in the Japan speech was overplayed by the media, since it only involved two short paragraphs among the 34 paragraphs in his prepared text. Thus the writer said China “chose to ignore the reference when Bush arrived in Beijing.”


The Chinese liked the Bush speech in Beijing because he praised China for its economic progress and for its role in helping negotiate with North Korea and that country’s nuclear threat.


But it was as if they could read the president’s mind when he trudged off to church on Sunday.


“When Thomas Murphy, then chairman of General Motors, visited Beijing in 1978, he too attended mass at a Catholic church near where Bush attended the protestant service. Giving subtle signals about religious freedom was far from Murphy’s mind, however. His only intent was to be a good Irish Catholic,” the writer said.


The editorial noted that religious freedom now exists throughout China, although the religion of the people is Buddhism rather than Christianity. The story said Buddhist temples now flourish in China.


“Surely no one is suggesting that only the practice of Christian religions count toward religious freedom,” he wrote.


The article noted that at about the same time of the Bush visit, a Washington-based Pew Research Center released the results of a global attitudes survey that shows 76 percent of the Chinese people living in urban areas are optimistic about their future over the next five years. In the United States, it was only 48 percent.


When asked if they were satisfied with the way things have been going at home, 72 percent of the Chinese people said they were, while only 39 percent said they were satisfied in the U.S.


The writer noted that the result of this survey was virtually ignored by the American media, with only the International Herald Tribune, distributed outside of the U.S., printing the story.


The article noted that the 2004 election of Taiwan’s Chen Shui Bian following a superficial wound from an alleged assassination attempt on the eve of the vote, was more effective in drawing a sympathy vote than “hanging chads or Swift Boat veterans that influence the outcome in America.”


In other words, the Chinese people are not interested in “democratic” elections that can be altered by trickery and subterfuge.


The story said Beijing has offered to buy agriculture products on a tariff-free basis from Taiwan “and dangled the prospect of sending millions of affluent mainland tourists to Taiwan.” It said the economic pressure on Chen to revise his no-negotiation stance is clear and that a peaceful settlement of differences between the two governments is in the works.


“Western media needs to take off their biased filters and see China for what it has become – a progressive nation on the move,” the writer concluded.



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