Interview resurfaces showing President Bush insisted on attending Beijing 2008 to decouple Olympics from politics
Published: Jan 26, 2022 02:29 PM
Former US president George W. Bush. Photo: IC

Former US president George W. Bush. Photo: IC

At a time when US politicians are clamoring "diplomatic boycott" against the Beijing Winter Olympics, which is less than 10 days away, Chinese reporters dug out an interview with the then US president George W. Bush, who was also under domestic pressure to stand up against the Beijing 2008 Olympics, but instead he told reporters that he had decided to decouple Olympics with politics. 

In June 2008, when the former president signaled he was going to attend the opening ceremony of Beijing 2008 Olympics, he faced domestic opposition. Reporters from several Chinese media interviewed Bush in July of that year. 

As Bush also planned to visit South Korea and Thailand before China, he first introduced his Asian trip to reporters, saying that the trips to South Korea and Thailand were purely diplomatic, whilst his family including his father, siblings, wife and daughters will all be gathered in Beijing. 

When asked about his decision to defy political pressure and attend the Beijing Games, Bush said he was looking forward to the visit, and that he was even a little excited. He noted that he and the US respect the Chinese people, their history and tradition. 

He said he was honored to be present at the Games, and that he was showing the Chinese people his respect by attending the Olympics. He hoped that the Chinese government would put more trust in him so that the two can jointly face future opportunities and challenges. 

Bush also said that he decided to decouple Olympics with politics as there are many occasions to talk about politics. He also expressed his expectation of watching a basketball game between China and the US. 

When being asked if he is concerned about air pollution in Beijing, he joked that as long as the Chinese people can breathe, so can he. 

Talking about his expectation for the China-US relations at that time, he said the only thing he was sure about was that the economic ties between the two were very intricate and mutually dependent in a certain way - thus there were opportunities and challenges.

As US president, it is not only important to have good relations with China, but with the whole region, said Bush, noting that he does not deem diplomatic policies as a zero-sum game.

What I am concerned is that the US is becoming more isolated and worships protectionism, said Bush, noting that protectionism was bad for the US and the world's economy. 

Global Times