Robert Zoellick: A decent Bush appointee for China?

Something must have gone wrong. Bush apparently appointed someone smart, competent and moderate to be his “man in Beijing,” as this profile in Newsweek indicates. (Well, he was Condi’s choice, and Bush did as he was told, but credit where due, to both of them.)

he Bush Administration’s point man on China is Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, a fierce and sometimes combative moderate who was handed the job largely by default. Last week in Beijing he wrapped up the first round of a bilateral dialogue that puts him in the driver’s seat of one of Washington’s most crucial relationships. But Zoellick has the backing of George Bush, a fellow pragmatist—at least on China—who kids Zoellick for being something of a nerd.

Colleagues say Zoellick frequently attends cabinet meetings in Rice’s place and is known to defend his moderate and nuanced views on China against administration hawks respectfully but forcefully. It was Zoellick who pushed the White House to commit larger packages of aid and generous trade concessions for tsunami-afflicted Southeast Asia in December, his colleagues say, and he is credited with preventing a trade war with China last year over Beijing’s alleged unfair subsidies of state-owned firms. The bow-tied and pedantic Zoellick offers a stark contrast to the anti-intellectual Bush, who occasionally ribs Zoellick for his mastery of wonkish detail. “Bush regards Bob as kind of a geek,” says a former colleague of Zoellick’s. “But they respect each other.”

Good article. It strikes me as proof that Bush himself doesn’t believe for a second all the hysteria whipped up in recent months about the imminent CHina “threat,” and that he and Rummy pay lip service to it as a political gesture to the hard right. Just my theory.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

For useful background info on Zoellick:

Hopefully he does a better job here than he did as an advisor for Enron.

August 13, 2005 @ 6:03 pm | Comment

He served on their advisory board, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he was involved in any of their shananigans. But thanks for the link; what concerns me is seeing how he was the one who urged Bush to use the “evil” label in regard to Iraq, North Korea and Iran, where Halliburton is doping so much business.

August 13, 2005 @ 6:13 pm | Comment

Yes, both the Newsweek profile and parts of the Wikipedia entry describe Zoellick as more moderate than others in the current administration, so it is suprising to see him as one introducing the word ‘evil’ into political discourse.

August 13, 2005 @ 6:34 pm | Comment

(Well, he was Condi’s choice, and Bush did as he was told, but credit where due, to both of them.)

Oh yes, we all know that Bush is the very first President to take advice from his aids.

August 13, 2005 @ 8:31 pm | Comment

I never said that he was, Gordon. And I credit both of them in this case.

August 13, 2005 @ 8:39 pm | Comment

Bob Zoellick, Bush’s China hand

Newsweek’s Stephen Glain has a good profile on Bob Zoellick, Condi Rice’s deputy and the the desiginated point man for Sino-US negotiations. Zoellick, who previously held the position of US Trade Representative, approaches the China with …

August 14, 2005 @ 9:59 am | Comment

Where’s ESWN? Cuz he would probably know better than me. Zoellick was Bush’s point man on FTAA, and last time I heard about him it was because Lula in Brazil and a bunch of other Latin American leaders were unhappy with Zoellicks free trade heavyhandedness. Something to look into.

August 15, 2005 @ 6:06 am | Comment

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