President Bush will spurn calls from human rights activists and refrain from criticizing Chinese government repression during his upcoming visit to Beijing.
“The idea of giving a Reaganesque ‘tear down this wall’ speech on human rights in China — as members of Congress and others are calling for Mr. Bush to do — has been abandoned as potentially insulting to the president’s hosts,” The New York Times reported.
In any case, most Chinese citizens would not hear such a speech due to state control of the news media.
And political activists Bush considered meeting in Beijing to indicate his support have been ordered to leave the city during his visit. Scores have been arrested, according to The Times.
Bush’s trip to Asia will include four days in Beijing as the Olympic Games begin. He will be the first president to attend an Olympics overseas — Bush did not attend the Games in Greece in 2004. And he has rejected calls to at least boycott the opening ceremonies on Friday.
At a news conference in July, Bush said: “The Chinese people are watching very carefully about the decisions by world leaders, and I happen to believe that not going to the opening ceremony for the games would be an affront to the Chinese people, which may make it more difficult to be able to speak frankly with the Chinese leadership.”
In an interview with China’s state television network on Wednesday, Bush said: “I know it’s important for me to send a clear signal to the Chinese people that we respect them.”
Bush did meet with several Chinese dissidents last week, but he did so in the White House residence, not in the Oval Office.
And while he will worship on Sunday at a Protestant church in Beijing officially registered by the government, authorities ruled out a visit to one of the underground religious institutions that are frequently harassed by the government, The Times noted.
Attendance at the registered church is “not an affirmation of religious freedom,” complained Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
“It’s an affirmation of government-controlled religion.”
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