President Bush to Urge More Freedoms in China
“The United States
believes the people of China
deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human
beings,” he will say, according to an advance copy of the speech released
by the White House. “So America
stands in firm opposition to China’s
detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates, and religious
“We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and
labor rights not to antagonize China’s leaders, but because trusting its people
with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full
The message is part of a larger speech touting the
longstanding U.S. alliance
with Thailand and progress
in Asia in general to becoming “a
thriving and dynamic region.”
President Bush will describe free trade agreements the
United States entered with 14 countries, including Australia and Singapore, and
joint efforts with the help of Asian nations to capture and kill terrorists.
He also plans to mention the cooperative effort to end the
threat of nuclear weapons posed by North Korea, and the North’s pledge
to dismantle its nuclear facilities.
But the portion of his marquee speech during his weeklong
tour of Asia that addresses China are his most publicly critical remarks of the
communist country to date.
China considers the opportunity of hosting the Olympics a
huge source of national pride. In an effort to preserve its image, the
government has rounded up dissidents and detained some. Foreign journalists
covering the games have objected to certain Web sites being blocked, such as
those about the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
During a news conference in Seoul with South Korean President Lee
Myung-bak on Wednesday, President Bush said the crackdown on dissidents has
been “a mistake,” quoted the Associated Press.
However, Mr. Bush sounds an optimistic note for China’s
future in the Thursday speech, saying, “Change in China will arrive on its
own terms and in keeping with its own history and traditions.”
President Bush has said he is attending the Olympic opening
ceremony to support the athletes but that he will speak frankly with Chinese
President Hu Jintao during their private meetings. He also plans to attend a
church service in Beijing, which will promote religious freedom in the country.