President Bush’s foreign policy speech here in Bangkok this morning focused on China and Myanmar.
U.S. President George W. Bush expressed his concern about the fate of political dissidents in China and his determination to bring an end to the “tyranny” of the military regime in Myanmar a day before he is expected to attend the opening of the Olympic Games in China.
In the speech delivered Thursday in the Thai capital, Mr. Bush stressed that the stability and prosperity of Asia require the strong involvement of both China and the U.S. to ensure that the region sustains its role as an important growth engine for the global economy.
He also emphasized the U.S.’s economic engagement in the Asian-Pacific region, touting bilateral free-trade pacts with Singapore, Australia and South Korea while signaling Washington’s commitment to pursue similar trade talks with Malaysia and Thailand. Mr. Bush urged China to do more to help achieve a successful outcome to the stalled Doha round of talks at the World Trade Organization to improve access to member countries’ markets.
On the eve of the Olympic Games in Beijing, President Bush said Thursday that he had “deep concerns” about basic freedoms in China and criticized the detention of dissidents and believers, even as he praised the extraordinary gains China has made since he first visited more than three decades ago.
Mr. Bush’s remarks in Bangkok, part of a speech on Asia, distilled and recast previous statements critical of China’s record on human rights. But delivered only hours before his departure for Beijing on Thursday evening, they represented a rebuke to China’s leaders, though a measured one.
President Bush on Thursday used some of his bluntest language to date on human rights in China, saying in a speech here before he flew to Beijing for the Olympic Games’ opening ceremony that “America stands in firm opposition” to China’s detention of political dissidents and religious activists.
Reuters video on YouTube: “Bush faces China balancing act”