Bush scolds China over human rights… then flies in for Games

Just hours before flying to Beijing for the Olympics on Thursday, US president George Bush used some of his bluntest language yet in publicly pressing China to improve its human rights record.

In a speech in Bangkok, when the eyes of the world will be on Beijing, Bush voiced “firm opposition” to China’s detention of dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists. “The US believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings,” he said in comments likely to anger China’s communist leadership. “We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly, and labour 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. Beijing is accused of cracking down on dissent ahead of the Games instead of granting more freedoms, as originally promised.