Bush to Promote Religious Freedom in China

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President Bush plans to promote human rights, including freedom of worship, while in China for the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games.

The President, a devout Christian, will also attend church, a top aide said Wednesday.

"When he goes to church on Sunday (Aug. 10) he will make a statement afterwards in which he discusses his view on religious freedom in China," said Dennis Wilder, national security council director of Asian Affairs.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is encouraging the President use his trip to the Beijing Olympics to highlight the issue of human rights and freedom of worship.

However, those critical of the President's visit are urging him not to attend the opening ceremony.

One of those critics is fellow Republican Congressman Zach Wamp from Tennessee.

"Freedom and individual liberty are God's gift to each of us, and they're not being recognized in the host country of the Olympics," Wamp said Thursday at a press conference.

Bush, however, will attend the August 8 opening ceremonies of the games. He will use the attention of the Olympics to show China's progress in granting various rights, such as free speech and free press, Wilder said.

"What we are looking for in China is not gestures, we are looking for structural change, we are looking for long term change," Wilder said.

"We are looking for the Chinese at these games to show that they are making progress, to demonstrate to the world. The spotlight is on Beijing, this is an opportunity for Beijing to show that it is widening. freedom of press, freedom of expression," he said.

Source: The Associated Press, AFP

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