President George Bush has arrived in China to attend the opening ceremonies of
the 2008 Olympic Games.
He touched down in Beijing Thursday, hours after bluntly criticizing China's human rights record.
In a speech in Thailand, Mr. Bush praised U.S. economic and diplomatic ties with Beijing. But he said the United States "stands in firm opposition" to China's detention of political, human rights and religious activists.
Mr. Bush urged China to trust its people with greater freedom, saying that is the only way for China to develop to its full potential.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it opposed what it called "any words or acts" that interfere in internal affairs. It said China's people enjoy a range of freedoms.
In his speech, Mr. Bush hailed Asia for evolving from an area mired in poverty, to become a thriving and dynamic region. He said the emergence of free-market democracies in Thailand, Indonesia, India and Japan has kept the region free from major military conflicts for decades.
Mr. Bush said diplomatic cooperation between the United States and Asia has allowed international negotiations over North Korea's nuclear program to move forward. He also denounced Burma's military government and called for the release of Burma's political dissidents.
Mr. Bush was in Thailand on the second leg of his three-nation Asian tour. He began the tour in South Korea.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.