President Bush Concludes Six-Day Asian Tour
The president’s speech, delivered alongside Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University, was broadcast live throughout China.
“Life in America shows that liberty, paired with law is not to be feared,” Mr. Bush said. “In a free society, diversity is not disorder. Debate is not strife. And dissent is not revolution. A free society trusts its citizens to seek greatness in themselves and their country.”
Mr. Bush also praised China’s progress since his 1975 visit as a tourist.
“A lot has changed in your country since then. China has made amazing progress — in openness and enterprise and economic freedom. And this progress previews China’s great potential.”
President Bush also engaged in a lively question and answer session with the students.
When asked about Taiwan, considered a rebel province by Beijing, Mr. Bush said the U.S. would stick by its pledge to help the island nation defend itself, but hoped for a peaceful resolution.
A statement by the state-run New China News Agency, said President Bush’s visit was a “historic moment” and that the two countries “have begun a new stage of developing constructive relations of cooperation in the new century.”
Mr. Bush’s stop in China, concluded his six-day tour of three Asian countries, which also included Japan and South Korea.
U.S. officials said that although there was little progress made in China on human rights, arms proliferation or the Taiwan issue, the meeting built on the new spirit of cooperation between the countries since China joined the U.S-led coalition against terrorism.
At a press conference Thursday, President Bush praised China for its “strong support” of the war on terrorism and asked Chinese President Jiang Zemin to assist him in starting a dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
“We would be willing to meet with the North Korean regime, and I asked his help in conveying that message,” President Bush said. “If [President Jiang Zemin] speaks to the leader of North Korea, he can assure him I am sincere in my desire to have our folks meet.”
President Bush labeled the country part of an “axis of evil” during his State of the Union address last month.
A spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry rejected the offer, but U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters aboard Air Force One that the U.S. will make direct contact through the United Nations.