CHINA> From Editor
Bush shows true leadership
By Li Hong (
Updated: 2008-07-08 11:50

Chinese people, especially online readers, have taken notice of US President George W. Bush's persistent pledge to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games. He also spoke with a firmer voice on Saturday in Japan to the press corps covering the annual G-8 summit. Bush said his administration will continue to "speak frankly with the Chinese leadership", and also, he beamed he wanted to cheer the American athletes in Beijing.

As his second four-year term draws to an end, Bush is now showing true leadership. This was signaled when he came out to address reporters himself and not his spokesperson at the White House, after Pyongyang reported to China, the mediator, a detailed listing of its nuclear program. The man, some dub the "most powerful in the world" who in early 2003 ordered the invasion into Iraq, now five years later declared the US would remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, and would end the Enemy Trade Act with it. Pyongyang reciprocated the next day with demolishing the cooling tower at one of its major nuclear facilities.

His coming out and delivering a statement on behalf of the US government has thrown weight in resolving a difficult issue. Now, many believe they are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel after many years of painstaking Six-Party negotiations.

Peace is also dawning on the Taiwan Straits. Following the April 2001 collision of a US surveillance plane and a Chinese Air Force fighter on the South China Sea, the then newly-installed President Bush earned points at home for his hard-line policy towards China, declaring the US "will take whatever measures to defend Taiwan". The speech, loathed by millions of patriotic Chinese including myself, helped emboldened then Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian to seek independence. The looming cloud of war was depressing everyone. Later, Bush calmed down and got serious advice on maintaining tranquility across the Straits. The White House drafted out the famed policy line -- "the status quo of the Taiwan Straits should not be changed" – which restrained Chen a little bit.

Now with the Harvard-educated Ma Ying-joeu coming into office, the dark cloud has dissipated, and Beijing and Taipei are getting into pragmatic mood of cooperation. To the great delight of mainlanders, direct flights have resumed and we can now visit Taiwan -- the "pearl island" in the minds of billions of mainlanders. As a matter of fact, top Bush administration officials have welcomed the latest developments, which we find very encouraging.

But back to the Olympic Games. Ordinary Chinese folks haven't seen any substantial cheerful news so far in 2008, as the country was hit in early February by a snow blizzard in the south, the violent riots in Tibet on March 14, a train collision in eastern Shandong in April, and then, the deadly 8.0-magitude Sichuan earthquake on May 12, which killed almost 70,000 and made many cry out at the thought of the enormous human loss. The price of oil is reaching record highs almost everyday, the world economy is in bad shape, and the Chinese stock market is tumbling to half its value from its peak a year ago. But, we genuinely determine the August Olympic Games will cheer us up, and cheer up the world too.

Chinese people hope the greatest male and female athletes from every corner of the globe will participate in this international sporting event. We have every confidence to make it a success. We also hope world leaders will come to Beijing, cheer their fellow countrymen and women, and sharing the Olympic spirit of happiness, friendship, and togetherness.

Bush got it right: "The Chinese people are watching very carefully about the decisions by world leaders and I happen to believe that not going to the opening ceremony for the games would be an affront to the Chinese people, which may make it more difficult to be able to speak frankly with the Chinese leadership."

Some analysts say that world leaders not coming to Beijing will hurt the feelings of 1.3 billion hosts and create divisions in the world. I cannot speak for all my fellow countrymen, but my feelings won't be hurt, if the leader of a country has a truly busy work schedule, and has good reason to turn down the Chinese invitation. My feelings won't be hurt if the decision is not based on political considerations.

Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda has announced he will be at the Bird's Nest, the National Stadium, on the night of August 8. He said one really shouldn't "link the Olympics to politics". Here we applaud him for that.

More than 80 heads of states will be at the opening ceremony, to cheer their athletes up and sharing a moment of Chinese happiness after a tumultuous first half-year. As Bush said, the position to sit besides Chinese President Hu Jintao and "speak frankly" with him will help China on the road of continued substantial progress.