TOPICS > Politics

China Tells Bush Not to Meddle in Its Affairs

BY Admin  August 7, 2008 at 3:35 PM EST

Mr. Bush, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi; AP

“As for the divergence on human rights and religions,
we always advocate that both sides talk from a basis of mutual respect and
equality, to enhance understanding and diminish divergence, and enlarge mutual
consensus,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said, according to an
Associated Press translation. “We firmly oppose any words or acts that
interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, using human rights and religion
and other issues.”

Qin’s statement, posted on the ministry’s Web site,
responded to remarks in a speech Mr. Bush made in Thailand
earlier Thursday that Washington firmly
opposed China’s
detention of political and rights and religious activists.

The president arrived in Beijing later in the day to attend Friday’s
opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

In his speech, President Bush used some of his most blunt
language yet in publicly pressing China to improve its human rights
record.

“The United States
believes the people of China
deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human
beings,” he said.

“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
potential,” he said.

Beijing
is accused of cracking down on dissents ahead of the Games.

The U.S.
president had faced criticism from human rights groups not only for attending
the Games but also for not speaking out more forcefully against Beijing’s crackdown in
the run-up to the showpiece event.

He has chided China
on human rights before, focusing on restrictions on religious freedom, and drew
the Chinese government’s ire by meeting dissidents at the White House ahead of
his week-long farewell trip to East Asia.

Mr. Bush made clear in Seoul he had no intention of using
the Olympics as a platform for lecturing China on human rights, though he
intends to discuss such matters privately with President Hu Jintao.

In Mr. Bush’s wide-ranging speech billed as an Asia policy
statement, he touched on everything from North Korea’s nuclear program, to
regional security and trans-Pacific trade, Reuters reported.

While acknowledging China’s
growing economic clout, he also said Beijing
should wake up to the wider responsibilities that that entails.

“We are making clear to China
that being a global economic leader carries with it the duty to act responsibly
on matters from energy to the environment to development in places like Africa,” he said.

Sophie Richardson, who monitors Asia for Human Rights Watch,
said in an e-mail to The Washington Post that it is “absurd to try to
sustain the claim that America’s
policies are principled while then effectively standing back and saying, ‘We
will watch from the sidelines while the Chinese do what they do.’” She
said it is a “diplomatic travesty” for Mr. Bush not to meet with
dissidents in Beijing
or insist on a nationally broadcast speech on a free press or other issues.

Another focus of Bush’s visit to Thailand
was neighboring Myanmar, also
known as Burma, which is
under heavy U.S.
sanctions to try to bring an end to 46 years of unbroken military rule.

“The American people care deeply about the people of Burma and dream for the day the people will be
free,” he told dissidents and former political prisoners at an hour-long
lunch.