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U.S. legislators urge Bush to skip Olympics

July 3, 2008

By Anthony Jaffee
The Washington Times
July 2, 2008

July 2 - Two of the most outspoken congressional critics of China's
human rights record urged President Bush on Tuesday not to attend the
Olympic Games, after Chinese police prevented human rights activists
from meeting with them in Beijing.

Republican Reps. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia and Christopher H. Smith
of New Jersey said Chinese officials blocked their meeting with activists.

"A meeting we had scheduled for Sunday night with three human rights
lawyers never occurred as the three lawyers were threatened and
either taken away or placed under house arrest by the police," Mr.
Smith told reporters in Beijing. "Similarly, after we met with senior
house church pastor, Zhang Mingxuan, he too was placed under house arrest."

The incident led both congressmen to call on Mr. Bush to reconsider
attending the Olympics.

"I personally believe that unless there's tremendous progress over
the next few weeks whereby they release some of these prisoners, I
personally do not believe the president should attend. Nor do I think
the secretary of state should attend," Mr. Wolf said.

A Chinese official said the meeting on Sunday was prevented because
it was incompatible with the nature of the congressmen's visit to China.

"The two U.S. congressmen came to China as guests of the United
States Embassy to engage in internal communications and
consultations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told
reporters. "They should not engage in activities incompatible with
the objective of their visit and with their status."

In Washington, the White House has made clear that Mr. Bush intends
to go to China in August for the games but has not said when. "We
have not announced the president's schedule yet," said White House
deputy press secretary Gordon Johndroe.

Some world leaders, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, have
threatened to boycott the Aug. 8 opening ceremony to protest the most
recent Chinese security crackdown in Tibetan areas of China.

"Tragically, the Olympics has triggered a massive crackdown designed
to silence and put beyond reach all those whose views differ from the
official 'harmonious' government line," Mr. Smith said. "The
crackdown on political dissidents and religious believers and the
crushing of cyber dissidents is now going full throttle and shows no
signs of abating."

This article is based in part on wire service reports.
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