BUSH - Speech Points Out Concerns Over Human & Religious Rights In China
President George W. Bush called on China to respect the rights of its citizens in a speech detailing the U.S.'s ``deep concerns'' over religious freedom and human rights in the world's most populous country.
``America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents, human-rights advocates and religious activists,'' Bush said in Bangkok today, speaking to Thai government officials and business leaders to mark 175 years of U.S.-Thai relations. Thailand was the second stop of his three- country tour, centered on watching the Olympic Games in China.
Bush's remarks, made hours before he arrived in Beijing to attend the opening ceremonies of the Games, are unlikely to alter China's policies, analysts said. His attendance has drawn criticism from human-rights groups and Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who say Bush shouldn't honor a government that restricts individual liberties.
``We can scream for a couple of days but it's really not going to have any impact,'' Adam Segal, senior fellow for China Studies at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, said in a conference call with reporters. ``The speech will not be carried in China.''
Bush said the U.S. doesn't want to antagonize China and praised the ``constructive relationship'' with China on issues such as Taiwan, economic cooperation and negotiations with North Korea that allow the U.S. to be ``honest and direct'' on rights matters.
`Not to Antagonize'
``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.
While Bush's comments will ``clearly have a negative impact'' among Chinese leaders, ``over the long term they aren't going to make much difference'' because Bush leaves office in six months, said Elizabeth Economy, director for Asia Studies at the Council of Foreign Relations.
``The United States believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings,'' Bush said, adding that ``ultimately, only China can decide what course it will follow.''
Where was this concern at every point from the time to voice approval to hold the "Games" in China to months before when masses of people were being locked up in order to cleanse the streets, to now when visa's are being revoked or not issued to Olympians due to their human rights work from around the world?