Former U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush Will Be Buried Today

George and Barbara Bush and their bicycles in Beijing. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Among all the living Presidents of the United States, the late George Herbert Walker Bush, was the closest to China and affected China's current history like no other. He was one of the key figures in the development of Sino-American relations when China opened to the world in the 1970s.

Described only in superlatives as the kindest and most decent U.S. President, Bush was un-Republican in his lack of racism and a liberal in his view that all people of whatever color are created equal and are to be respected.

The 41st President will be buried today (Thursday) on the grounds of The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at the Texas A&M University. He will lie alongside his devoted wife, Barbara, who died in April, and his first child, Robin, who died from leukemia in 1953 when she was only three years old.

Bush died Nov. 30 from Parkinson's disease. His last words, "I love you," were said to his son, George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States. Bush 41 died peacefully in a hospital bed. He was 94.

Bush was the United States' Permanent Representative to the United Nations when he voted for the membership of the People's Republic of China in this august body.

He was very well acquainted with China, having been posted from 1974 to 1975 as Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in China.  In 1974, President Gerald Ford appointed Bush U.S. Liaison Office Chief, which at the time was the highest diplomatic position since the U.S. had no formal diplomatic ties with China.

The 14 months Bush spent in China are widely regarded as historically beneficial to China-United States ties.

Bush lived in China with his wife Barbara. The Bushes much enjoyed their life in Beijing, especially Barbara who said this was the only time in their marriage she had her husband all to herself.

George and Barbara frequently went around Beijing on bicycles, and ordinary Chinese who often recognized him later called him "Busher."

"He was a very good friend of China," said Terry Branstad, the current U.S. ambassador to China.

Upon hearing of Bush's death, Branstad called for a moment of silenceduring a luncheon address to Committee of 100, a nonprofit organization formed by Chinese-Americans. The Committee of 100 served as a bridge between the U.S. and China and was established in the wake of the Tiananmen Square incident in June 1989, when the central government killed hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators. Bush was U.S. President at the time.

Despite this massacre, Bush sought to protect the blossoming Sino-U.S. ties and resisted calls for a punitive response and limited sanctions on China.

Bush met the legendary Mao Zedong twice, but never met Zhou Enlai, who was by then stricken by lung cancer. Both Chinese leaders died in 1976.

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