Neil Bush: Con­tin­u­ing a fa­ther’s legacy BIO

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By MAY ZHOU in Hous­ton mayzhou@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

In the US, there are many busi­ness people who are heav­ily in­volved in do­ing busi­ness with China. Neil Bush, son and brother to two for­mer US pres­i­dents, is one of them.

Yet, un­like other busi­ness people, his fam­ily name lends in­tan­gi­ble weight to his en­deav­ors, tak­ing them be­yond mere com­merce.

“I just got back from Bei­jing, see, I haven’t un­packed my suit­case yet,” Bush said, open­ing his suit­case on the floor of his Hous­ton of­fice to re­veal an as­sort­ment of Chi­nese style boxes.

Bush was just back from at­tend­ing a cel­e­bra­tion of the 60th an­niver­sary of the Chi­nese People’s As­so­ci­a­tion for Friend­ship with For­eign Coun­tries. “It’s a big event, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping came to make a speech,” said Bush.

Bush’s first con­tact with China was in 1975 when his fa­ther was the US’ chief li­ai­son of­fi­cer in Bei­jing. He rode a bi­cy­cle like the lo­cals to ex­plore Bei­jing.

“I saw people on rusty old bikes look­ing long­ingly at shiny new bikes in store dis­play win­dows,” he re­called. “I could tell they very much wanted to own a new bike. It’s re­mark­able to see that.”

Bush went to China again in 1981 on his own. “I brought a team of oil and gas ex­perts to look at some po­ten­tial deals, but it didn’t work out,” he said.

Bush kept go­ing to China, link­ing US busi­ness people with their Chi­nese coun­ter­parts dur­ing the ’90s. Projects such as the mall in Shang­hai’s Pudong area and Ford Mo­tor’s parts busi­ness ma­te­ri­al­ized thanks to his help.

Over the past 15 years, Bush has been fo­cus­ing on de­vel­op­ing his own businesses in both China and the Mid­dle East. He now has var­i­ous in­ter­ests in Sin­ga­pore, Hong Kong and Chi­nese main­land in­volv­ing oil and gas ex­plo­ration and ex­ploita­tion, real es­tate de­vel­op­ment and property man­age­ment. He has a per­ma­nent of­fice at the Pres­i­den­tial Bei­jing, a ho­tel owned by one of his com­pa­nies.

By his own ac­count, Bush has been to China more than 100 times and vis­ited more than 30 cities there, but he ad­mits he has lost count.

In the last three years alone, Bush has made more than 30 trips to China. “I am go­ing there more fre­quently in re­cent years be­cause of my busi­ness in­ter­ests,” he said. “Busi­ness keeps lur­ing me back to China.”

Busi­ness aside, Bush is not afraid to ad­mit that he has a per­sonal in­ter­est in pro­mot­ing his fa­ther’s legacy. “My fa­ther is very vo­cal about the im­por­tance of the ties and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the US and China,” he said. “I want to use the good name of my fa­ther Ge­orge Bush to build a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship be­tween the US and China. There are so many mis­un­der­stand­ings and there is a lot to do.”

To that end, Bush has been ac­tively in­volved in the bi­en­nial China- US Re­la­tions Con­fer­ence ini­ti­ated by his fa­ther and for­mer pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. H. Bush in 2003 to con­tinue his vi­sion and legacy of es­tab­lish­ing bet­ter un­der­stand­ing, closer ties, and im­por­tant col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween China and the US in the 21st Century.

The Con­fer­ence, co-hosted by Texas A&M Univer­sity, the Ge­orge Bush School of Govern­ment and Pub­lic Ser­vice, the Ge­orge Bush Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary Foun­da­tion and the Chi­nese People’s As­so­ci­a­tion for Friend­ship with For­eign Coun­tries, has been al­ter­na­tively held in the US and China over the past decade.

Bush is cur­rently ac­tively in­volved in plan­ning the sixth bi­en­nial China-US Re­la­tions Con­fer­ence to be held in China in the fall of this year. The topic is global in­fec­tious dis­ease.

“We want to bring to­gether ex­perts on in­fec­tious dis­eases from around the world,” Bush said. “So that when such things hap­pen, we can fight to­gether.”

Bush is of­ten in­vited to speak while in China. In 2011, he opened a Sina Weibo mi­cro-blog­ging ac­count and now has more than 130,000 fol­low­ers.

Bush views him­self as a self-ap­pointed am­bas­sador of good will to China.

“I feel like a rebel in fight­ing all the neg­a­tive views of China in the US. A lot of people har­bor a neg­a­tive or cau­tious view of China. People fear China as a mil­i­tary foe.

“How­ever, in 2,500 years of his­tory, China has been a su­per power more than once yet never once used that power to con­quer oth­ers.”

As a fre­quent trav­eler to China, Bush says he knows

NEIL BUSH

Age: 59 Bach­e­lor De­gree in In­ter­na­tional Eco­nom­ics, Tu­lane Univer­sity Busi­ness owner Chair­man, Points of Light Chair­man, the Bar­bara Bush Hous­ton Lit­er­acy Foun­da­tion Mem­ber, Board of the Hous­ton Sal­va­tion Army Mem­ber, Board of the Bush School of Govern­ment and Pub­lic Ser­vice

My fa­ther is very vo­cal about the im­por­tance of the ties and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the US and China. I want to use the good name of my fa­ther Ge­orge Bush to build a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship be­tween the US and China.”

NEIL BUSH

its pulse.

“I think the big­gest chal­lenge is that to­day in China many young people want China to be like the US... That would re­quire China to leap from a de­vel­op­ing na­tion to a de­vel­oped na­tion in one step. That’s just not pos­si­ble,” he said.

MAY ZHOU / CHINA DAILY

Neil Bush talks about his in­volve­ment with China and de­sire to con­tinue his fa­ther’s legacy at his Hous­ton of­fice.

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