Should Bush attend Beijing Olympics?

March 21, 2008 6:55:26 PM PDT
As unrest continues in Tibet, there is mounting pressure on President Bush to stay home in August, rather than attend the Beijing Olympics. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi met with the Dalai Lama in India Friday, where she called on the world to denounce Chinese rule in Tibet.

Speaker Pelosi led a bipartisan delegation to visit the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. The trip was planned before last week's Tibetan uprising began.

But it has come at an opportune time for Pelosi, who is a longtime China critic. In 1991, she unfurled a pro-democracy banner in Tiananmen Square.

"If freedom loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China's oppression of China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world," said Pelosi.

Thousands of Chinese troops are moving into Western China to contain the unrest and on Friday, China issued a most wanted list of 21 rioters.

"The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world," said Pelosi.

And it is a challenge to President Bush. He plans to attend the Beijing Olympics in August despite mounting international concern over China's response in Tibet and human rights record in general. Bush has said he's going because it's a sporting event and because it's a chance to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

"Maybe I'm in a little different position. Others don't have a chance to visit with Hu Jintao, but I do. And every time I meet with him I talk about religious freedom," said President Bush.

Last year, China staged an event at the Great Wall marking the one-year countdown to the Olympics. At the same time, Oakland resident Nurpur Modi and five others from the group, Students for a Free Tibet, were unfurling a banner reading, "One world, one dream, free Tibet 2008," with the Olympic rings on it.

Modi hopes China will not be able to use the Olympics to mask its ongoing human rights failures.

"The Tibetan movement is alive," said Modi.

China has accused the Dalai Lama of inciting the current uprising. Pelosi is calling for an independent investigation to prove them wrong.