U.S. President George W. Bush plans to use his upcoming visit to the Beijing Olympic Games to embarrass Beijing by talking publicly about his concerns over human rights abuses in China, says a Chinese dissident who met the president Tuesday. He says Beijing has embarrassed Bush, who long ago announced he would attend the Games' opening ceremonies, because the regime has not followed through on promises to improve human rights ahead of the Games.
Democracy advocate Wei Jingsheng spoke with The Epoch Times after his meeting with President Bush at the White House. He says the president told Chinese dissidents invited for a visit to “rest assured” that he would use “every chance,” including at gatherings and with the media, to speak about Chinese political prisoners and the limits on religious freedom in China.
Mr. Bush has faced criticism over the announcement that he would attend the opening ceremonies of the Games in light of the human rights situation in China.
Mr. Wei says the U.S. government has met privately with Chinese officials in the run-up to the Olympics, pressing the regime to make concessions in areas of human rights, but that the regime has refused to fulfill promises made in these areas.
Dissidents and Falun Gong believers have been arrested in large numbers this year, in an apparent effort to avoid any public displays this August. In Beijing, foreign reporters covering the Games have had their internet access restricted. And rights groups such as Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International have said the overall human rights situation in China has worsened as the Games draw near.
“There hasn’t been the slightest improvement on the Communist regime’s part, and this has been a huge embarrassment for the Bush administration and has made it extremely difficult for the administration domestically, in facing the Republican Party, and with Congress,” says Wei.
He believes this has made the U.S. government “angry with embarrassment,” and has led Bush to take a more public stand on Chinese human rights.
In fact, the Tuesday meeting was itself seen a snub to the Chinese regime.
According to Wei, the dissidents were reached only Monday evening with the invitation to meet the president the next morning at 11:30 a.m., the same day he was to meet the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi.
A White House news release touted the meeting with Chinese freedom activists and included a photo of the president together with them. It made only a brief mention that President Bush “also dropped by a meeting” with the visiting Chinese minister.
“It is a clear signal to the Chinese Communists that the U.S. Government is extremely concerned about China's human rights issues," says Wei.
The move drew fiery criticism in the state-run Chinese press, who said the U.S. president had sent a “seriously wrong” message and labelled the activists as “anti-China hostile forces” and “splittists” involved in “harming China's national security and social stability.”
"The Chinese Communists are extremely terrified of this meeting,” says Wei. “[They have] invited all the world leaders to attend the opening ceremonies just to ‘gain face’ and show that all Western governments are supportive to the Communist regime.”
“Bush's actions today are saying, ‘Actually I do not support you.’"