Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent the following letter today to President Bush, ahead of his trip to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, urging him to make human rights and freedom of the press in China top priorities of his visit.
Below is a text of the letter:
August 1, 2008
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Dear President Bush:
On the eve of your trip to China to attend the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the human rights situation in China and Tibet is worsening and new restrictions are being imposed on international journalists as they attempt to cover the Olympic Games. I am writing to ask that you make human rights and freedom of the press top priorities of your visit.
The Olympic Charter states that the goal of the Olympic Games should be to promote “a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” Sadly, the Chinese government has failed to create an atmosphere that honors the Olympic traditions of freedom and openness. In fact, human rights conditions have worsened in the time leading up to the Olympic games as Chinese authorities have intensified efforts to detain and imprison people who have publicly spoken out about conditions in China and Tibet.
In exchange for the privilege of hosting the Olympic Games, the Chinese government made commitments regarding freedom of the press, human rights, and the environment. Many of these commitments have been violated repeatedly and blatantly. Prominent human rights defenders have been arrested and imprisoned. International and Chinese journalists have been censored, threatened, and detained. Most recently, we have learned that international journalists are being blocked from accessing websites deemed offensive by the Chinese government. This action is in direct contradiction of Beijing's commitment to allow international media free access to cover the Olympics in China.
The recent dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama did not result in any progress. Thousands of peaceful Tibetans still languish in prisons in the aftermath of protests that began in March. Chinese authorities stepped up their so-called “patriotic education” campaigns that require Tibetan Buddhists — regardless of their true thoughts, beliefs, and convictions — to publicly denounce the Dalai Lama.
On the international front, the Chinese government's policies of supporting the genocidal regime in Sudan and the military junta in Burma run counter to the interests of peace and stability in the world. It is my hope that you will persuade China to end its support for the human rights abuses in these countries.
On July 30, the U.S. House of Representatives considered a resolution calling on the Chinese government to end abuses of human rights, cease its repression of Tibetan and Uighur citizens and end its support for the governments of Sudan and Burma. The resolution also calls on the President to make strong statements on human rights and meet with the families of jailed prisoners of conscience while in Beijing. It passed by a vote of 419-1.
Your recent meetings with Chinese dissidents at the White House are to be commended. However, your participation at the opening ceremony of the Olympics will send a signal to the Chinese people and the international community that could be misperceived as your approval, and that of the American people, for the draconian policies of the Chinese government. Therefore, it is essential that you unambiguously speak out for human rights and meet with the families of jailed prisoners of conscience while you are in Beijing.
Thank you for your attention to these concerns.
Speaker of the House
cc: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice