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
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
Some information for this report was provided by
AFP and AP.