China Snubs Bush Attack over Rights; Blunt: George W. Bush with Chinese President Hu Jintao
Byline: David Williams
THE Chinese government yesterday warned U.S. President George Bush to stay out of its affairs as he flew in for the Olympics after bluntly criticising the host countrys human rights record.
With the eyes of the world on Beijing for todays spectacular opening ceremony, the diplomatic tension was yet another reminder of the high stakes involved in awarding the Games to the Communist regime.
Hours before arriving in China, Mr Bush had used his strongest language yet to voice firm opposition to the detention of dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists.
Even as he spoke, security forces in Beijing continued their round-up of Chinese people whose protests might cast a shadow over the showpiece opening ceremony.
Among those taken into custody were at least two women who have embarrassed the authorities with demonstrations over being forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for the Olympics.
Mr Bush had made it clear he had no intention of lecturing the Chinese during his trip to the opening ceremony, but provoked anger from the hosts by choosing to call for widespread reform during his final stopover in the Thai capital Bangkok en route to the Games.
He said: The United States believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings.
We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly, and labour rights not to antagonise Chinas leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential.
He has chided China on human rights before, focusing especially on restrictions on religious freedom, and drew the Chinese governments ire by meeting dissidents at the White House ahead of his farewell trip to Asia this week.
Within hours of the Bangkok speech, China sternly told him to mind his own business.
Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang retorted: The Chinese government puts people first, and is dedicated to maintaining and promoting its citizens basic rights and freedom. …