Along the way to Beijing to attend the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony this past week, President Bush made a stop in Bangkok. His purpose was to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the alliance between Thailand (Siam when the alliance was formed) and the United States.
In his Bangkok address, Bush paid allegiance to Thailand as a significant leader in Asia and applauded the Thai government for the restoration of democracy for its citizens as well as being one of the driving forces that has helped to transform post-WWII Asia into a thriving and dynamic region.
Bush also took the opportunity to decry China’s detention of political dissidents and religious activists, as well as the lack of freedom allowed to the Chinese citizens, in general. In the weeks prior to the Games, Bush has had to juggle the pressures from human rights activist groups to confront China in its treatment of Tibetans while striving to keep a positive relationship with China as a key trading partner.
Responding to Bush’s remarks, Qin Gang, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, chided the President by proclaiming that China “opposes any words or acts that interfere in other countries’ internal affairs by using human rights and religion and other issues.”
While Mr. Gang’s carefully crafted direct verbal response matched the means by which Bush expressed his concerns, the true indication of China’s feelings was expressed in another way.
Subsequent to Bush’s speech, a charter flight carrying the White House press corps was detained for nearly three hours after landing at Beijing’s International Airport not long after Bush arrived to attend the Opening Ceremony. The flight crew of the Northwest Airlines 747 had been expecting to park at a VIP terminal (based on preliminary arrangements) but was instead told by the control tower to park at a normal international gate. The nearly 40 journalists who were due to cover... [continues]
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