Thailand — With all eyes on Beijing, President Bush bluntly told China that America is strongly opposed to the way the communist government represses its people, a rebuke delivered from the heart of Asia on the cusp of the Olympic Games.
In perhaps his last major address in Asia, Bush in Bangkok said that America speaks out for a free press, free assembly and labor rights not to antagonize China's leaders, but because it's the only path the potent U.S. rival can take to reach its full potential.
"America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents and human rights advocates and religious activists," Bush said.
"We press for openness and justice not to impose our beliefs, but to allow the Chinese people to express theirs."
Along with his chiding, Bush offered praise for China's market reforms and hope that it will embrace freedom, reflecting the delicate balance that the president seeks to strike with the potent U.S. rival.