When Mr Bush arrives on Thursday 30 years after Richard Nixon's rapprochement with China, it will be Bill Clinton mainlanders are likely to recall most fondly as a visiting president. While Mr Bush's domestic popularity towers over his predecessor, mainlanders, when asked whom they prefer, choose Mr Clinton hands down. 'We like Clinton. He was more friendly to Chinese people. He spoke in a way Chinese people could understand. We don't get that feeling with Bush,' Beijing restaurant worker Xun Huang said. For many mainlanders, Mr Clinton created the impression that he understood China and genuinely wanted to help improve the nation. But many Chinese see Mr Bush as someone concerned only with US interests. This, they feel, was illustrated by his naming of China as a strategic competitor and by his handling of the US spy plane incident on Hainan Island last April. 'When Bush first became president he was so confrontational . . . We Chinese people see he only respects America's interests,' Beijing journalist Liu Lianqiang said. These views are also shared by Communist Party officials. 'We knew Clinton did not care about communism but he hoped to change it by co-operating with us,' one senior party member said. 'Bush didn't say let's work together in Asia. He says Taiwan is ours . . . everywhere is ours.' Mr Bush's unyielding image remains with Chinese foreign policy experts. This is despite him dropping the strategic competitor tag and his friendly statements at October's Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum summit in Shanghai, in which he called China a great nation. 'Bush says to us we want to be friends but you have to follow our requirements. If not, then you are our enemy. If you say that to me, I don't want to be your friend,' said Professor Niu Jun, a US diplomacy expert at Beijing University's Institute of International Relations. Experts note Mr Bush is staying in Beijing for less than 30 hours and only after visiting Japan and South Korea. In 1998, Mr Clinton stayed for eight days.