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VOA Interview with Richard Bush - 2002-11-14


Richard C. Bush III, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies and Director, Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, Brookings Institution. He is an expert on East Asia, Taiwan, and U.S.-China relations. Mr. Bush served as Chairman of the Board and Managing Director of the American Institute in Taiwan. He talked with VOA's David Borgida.

MR. BORGIDA
Now joining us live, Richard Bush, from the Brookings Institution here in Washington. Mr. Bush is a China expert. Mr. Bush, thanks for joining us and being so patient today.

MR. BUSH
It's a pleasure to be with you, David.

MR. BORGIDA
Tell us a little bit about what you expect from the Congress. Do you think that Vice President Hu Jintao will be the main political leader to emerge, or are we to expect some more?

MR. BUSH
There will be a number of different things happening as a result of this meeting and another meeting next spring. Vice President Hu Jintao will inevitably become the new President of China. He is likely to become the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. We will have a new Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, which is really the top leadership group. We may see in that group a balance between people associated with Mr. Hu and protégés of the outgoing President Jiang Zemin.

One other issue is: who will become the Chairman of the Central Military Commission. And there is speculation that Jiang Zemin will keep that post. Beneath all this, there is a much more massive transition as people in the fourth generation of leaders succeed people in the third generation.

MR. BORGIDA
Let's talk a little bit beyond personalities, though, Mr. Bush. Any major policy reconfigurations that you think might emerge from all this?

MR. BUSH
I don't think so. This is a change of personnel, a rejuvenation of the Communist Party leadership, but there is broad consensus within the Communist leadership, whether it's third generation or fourth generation, about the direction of domestic policy and the direction of external policy.

MR. BORGIDA
One policy that may be changing, Mr. Bush, is a sense that this party is now becoming a party for the businessmen, the entrepreneurs, in China. Why is that happening?

MR. BUSH
This is happening because it is really the fruit of success of Chinese Community policy over the past 22 years. It was the party that moved China in the direction of economic reform and created new social groups, new social forces, including entrepreneurs. The Communist Party realizes that if it is going to maintain its leadership position, it has to adapt to these changes, it has to co-opt these entrepreneurs, bring them into the party, in order to continue to represent the main important forces of Chinese society.

MR. BORGIDA
President Jiang Zemin, however, Mr. Bush, will still, if and when he retires, maintain some influence, don't you think?

MR. BUSH
I think that's certain to be the case. As I said, he may hold on to one of the top three positions. In addition, I think we will see a number of his protégés in the top party bodies. So, I think his hand is going to continue to guide China to at least some extent.

MR. BORGIDA
What are your expectations for the bilateral U.S.-Sino relationship, Mr. Bush? Any sense that things will improve or get chillier?

MR. BUSH
U.S.-China relations have been improving over the last year, in the wake of September 11th. The two countries have found a number of areas of cooperation in the foreign policy field, including counterterrorism, North Korea, and Iraq. It is my prediction that this new leadership will emphasize continuity in its relationship with the United States, and seek to expand these areas of cooperation. There may still be problems, but the hope on both sides is that they can be managed.

MR. BORGIDA
Well, the views of Richard Bush from the Brookings Institution here in Washington. Mr. Bush, thanks so much for being so patient and joining us today.

MR. BUSH
I enjoyed being with you, David. Thank you.

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