SCMP Thursday, November 8, 2001


Bush Snr and Tung discuss downturn

STELLA LEE

Former US president George Bush discussed the impact of the US economic downturn on Hong Kong with Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa after arriving in the SAR amid tight security yesterday.
Mr Bush, who will deliver a speech to the World Productivity Congress this morning, started his low-profile visit by meeting Mr Tung at the Chief Executive's residence in Magazine Gap Road.
Mr Tung's office said the pair exchanged views on economic prospects in the US and the likely impact on Asian economies, including Hong Kong.
Mr Bush, believed to be staying at the Grand Hyatt, Wan Chai, will deliver his speech at the Convention and Exhibition Centre. He is thought to be leaving tonight for another meeting in South Korea tomorrow.
Police have classified the congress a low-risk event but deployed VIP protection unit officers to help the US Secret Service with security for Mr Bush.
All 1,000 participants and journalists at the congress will undergo security checks before being allowed into the convention centre. The extra security was not imposed during the first three days of the congress, which started on Monday.
Former Philippine president Fidel Ramos also arrived in Hong Kong yesterday for the congress, but police have only listed Mr Bush as an internationally protected person.
Mr Bush, his son President George W. Bush, ex-president Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, have been named "arch-criminals" by Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect behind the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Mr Bush was the subject of an assassination plot in April 1993 when he visited Kuwait after the 1991 Gulf War.
Dom LaVigne, whose company, DNM Strategies, helped co-ordinate Mr Bush's visit, said Mr Bush had been asked if he wanted to cancel his trip following the terrorist attacks in the US.
"But he's still very firm to honour his promises to various groups. He was determined to come here," Mr LaVigne said.
A group of anti-war activists are planning to submit a petition to Mr Bush, but Mr LaVigne said it would be unlikely they would be allowed to get close to the former president.
He said Mr Bush would be unlikely to have time to do any sightseeing.
His packed schedule includes meetings with a number of local and US business leaders at breakfast today and a cocktail reception.
Mr LaVigne said Mr Bush would fly to Seoul to attend the Global Leaders' Dialogue organised by his company on Friday evening.
Mr Bush's speeches in Hong Kong and Seoul will discuss the new global order and the role of the US and Asian countries in the balance of power.