|President Bush at Tiananmen Square, February, 1989
In the late 1970s, Bush had served as the official envoy to China, establishing the liaison office that eventually became the official embassy. He and his wife enjoyed riding bicycles on Beijing streets and acquired substantial knowledge of Chinese society. He also boosted personal relationship with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.
After becoming the President, Bush took the opportunity of the funeral of Japanese Emperor Hirohito to launch his first major diplomatic trip by visiting Japan, China, and Korea, before visiting any traditional western allies. (To soften possible controversy, he paid a same-day symbolic visit to neighboring Canada before the Asian trip.)
More than twenty years later, President Obama attempted his own version of "pivot to Asia."
Days of 1989