|Bush has huge opportunity to improve China ties (01/16/02)|
US President George W. Bush's visit to China next month would provide a tremendous chance for improvement in Sino-US ties, an American academic said in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
"This will be a great opportunity for the US President to push vigorously forward US-China relations," David Lampton, professor of China studies at Washington's Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, told the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.
"The meeting will force the bureaucracies of both nations to come to a higher degree of positive consensus."
Professor Lampton, who is also the Nixon Centre's director of China studies, said he hoped Mr Bush's visit - scheduled for February 21 and 22 - would build on the momentum of his October visit to Shanghai for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum.
"His visit to Shanghai signalled a fact that in some regards, he is his father's son on China," said Professor Lampton, referring to former US president George Bush senior, who was Washington's envoy to China in the mid-1970s.
However, the professor said some members of Mr Bush's administration remained distrustful of Beijing, even after China's support for the war on terrorism and its sharing of intelligence with the US. "Not necessarily all of the President's advisers share the same school of thought of better relations with China," he said.
According to Professor Lampton, there are still some of the US President's advisers - particularly those in the Pentagon - were suspicious "of China because they believe as China becomes economically and politically stronger, Beijing will seek to push out the American presence in the world".
He said China needed to change its image among the American people - many of whom misperceive China.
Professor Lampton said Mr Bush would be willing to improve relations with China.
He said he could understand Beijing's displeasure over US arms sales to Taiwan, but he remained hopeful the US and China could forge a better relationship, especially if Beijing focused on economic development and maintaining internal stability.