China and its Discontents

“America is Our Best Friend”

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I was really touched when my homestay parents asked me over dinner, “Who do you think is America’s best friend? China?” I responded, thinking in terms of real-politik allies, “No, probably not.” But they said, “America is China’s best friend. Japanese students don’t come to China and live with Chinese families. They live together in dorms. The Koreans don’t come to China and live with Chinese families. They live out on their own. Only Americans do. They’re unique. More Americans understand China than in any other country, and more Chinese understand America than in any other country; more students study in each other’s country than in any others. That is why we are best friends.”

Also something that I had forgotten: they mentioned that George Bush Sr. had served as ambassador to China in the early 1970’s under Ford (he wasn’t actually ambassador at the time, because the US still recognized Taiwan, but was the official envoy, and acted like an ambassador). Furthermore, they said Bush Jr. was in China during this time, biking around Beijing taking pictures. For some reason, this really surprised me, simply because the perspective you would have as a foreigner in Beijing prior to the Reform and Opening Up would be somewhat unique, as there were really no foreigners in China prior to that time.

At some function (it’s unclear in what capacity), my homestay father got to know John Tsu, who he described as Bush Sr.’s “Chinese teacher” (he was chairman of the Asian-Pacific Affairs Committee in the White House). I thought that was an interesting connection as well.

Written by Will

December 8th, 2010 at 4:24 am