"The message to the Chinese is that we should not let this incident destabilize relations. Our relationship with China is very important. But they need to realize that it's time for our people to be home," the president said during a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Bush said the United States was "working all diplomatic channels to affect our priority. There's discussions going on, and we'll continue to do so. My mission is to bring the people home.
"As to whether or not we'll have good relations, my intention is to make sure we do have good relations. But the Chinese have got to act, and I hope they do quickly."
When asked about whether the United States should apologize to the Chinese and whether he will reconsider a trip to China later this year, the president said, "I have no further comments on this subject."
The president said he regretted that a Chinese pilot was missing and that one of their airplanes was lost. But "our prayers are also with our own servicemen and women, and they need to come home."
Bush still believes "China ought to be a trading partner of ours."
"I think it's in our economic interests to open up Chinese markets to U.S. agricultural products. I not only believe it's in our economic interests, I believe it's in our interests to promote U.S. values, and I believe the marketplace promotes values.
"People get a taste of freedom in the marketplace; they tend to demand other freedoms in their society. And so I'm an advocate of China's entering into the WTO [World Trade Organization], and I'm hopeful that the current situation ends quickly and our people come home," the president said.
"I believe trade will encourage more freedom, particularly when it comes to individual liberties. The marketplace unleashes opportunity for people to make choices. So, I'm continuing to push for trade with China."
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