A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

How about some Freedom for China?

AP: Bush Urges China to Grant More Freedoms---

KYOTO, Japan - President Bush prodded China on Wednesday to grant more political freedom to its 1.3 billion people and held up archrival Taiwan as a society that successfully moved from repression to democracy as it opened its economy.

In remarks sure to rile Beijing, Bush suggested China should follow Taiwan's path.

"Modern Taiwan is free and democratic and prosperous. By embracing freedom at all levels, Taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society," the president said.

Bush made his remarks in the advance text of a speech that was to be the cornerstone address of his Asian trip. From Japan, he will continue to South Korea, China and Mongolia.
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In his prepared speech, Bush said that China's economic growth must be accompanied by more freedoms for its people.

"As China reforms its economy," the president said, "its leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is opened even a crack, it cannot be closed. As the people of China grow in prosperity, their demands for political freedom will grow as well."

Bush also lectured China about opening its economy to foreign competition to narrow the expected $200 billion trade surplus with the United States. "China needs to provide a level playing field for American businesses seeking access to China's market," Bush said. Further, he said, China must fulfill its promise to move toward a more market-based currency.

Bush's warm words about Taiwan could chill his reception in Beijing later this week when the president, to make a point about religious freedom, also plans to worship at one of five officially recognized Protestant churches in the city.

Bush said Chinese President Hu Jintao has asserted that his vision of "peaceful development" will make the Chinese people more prosperous.

"I have pointed out that the people of China want more freedom to express themselves ... to worship without state control ... and to print Bibles and other sacred texts without state control," Bush said.

By talking about Taiwan, Bush was raising an issue that has been a major U.S.-Chinese irritant.