Bush Calls for Religious Freedom Prior to Visiting China

( [email protected] ) Nov 16, 2005 10:34 AM EST

On the first of his four-nation visit to Asia, President Bush said at the press conference in Japan that China should do better at giving freedom to its people and that the nation should emulate Taiwan.

The remark is a mere peak of the major address that Washington has envisioned for Bush's trip. Religious freedom and human rights have been the epicenter of discussion among US-China relationship. The recent release of State Department's Religious Freedom Report and cases religious persecution were responsible for the stir.

Bush made it clear prior to leaving the states that religious freedom will be one of the main topics he will address in his trip. The intention was revisited in his stay at Japan when he expressed bluntly to the press what he felt was lacking in China.

"As China reforms its economy, its leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is opened even a crack, it cannot be closed," said Bush in a speech scheduled for delivery today.

Bush said that he has told Chinese President Hu Jintao "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 fear of punishment."

Bush called for China to emulate its partner across the strait, and praised Taiwan for its democratic system. "Taiwan has moved from repression to democracy as it liberalized its economy." Said Bush. He felt that for China to become an important trading power, it needs to shed its political restrictions.

"By meeting the legitimate demands of its citizens for freedom and openness, China's leaders can help their country grow into a modern, prosperous and confident nation," he said.

Bush also urged China to continue its reforms and open up its nation to receive greater welcome from abroad. He felt that it is in the interest of China to create a free society.

"To allow people to worship freely, for example, in your society is part of a stable, mature society. And that leadership should not fear freedoms within their society," he said.

Bush will visit Beijing from November 19-21. He will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Saturday to address important issues on trade and human rights. He also indicated that he will attend Sunday service with the local believers.