Thursday, April 20, 2006

Do as I Say -- Not as I Do

President Bush welcomed Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House Thursday with a statement about expanding freedom -- including free speech -- for the Chinese people.

"...China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship." -- President Bush, White House, April 20
Seconds later, a Chinese protestor began disrupting the Chinese President's speech. It took a painfully long time for the Secret Service to get to her, and carry her off the White House grounds.

CNN Live Coverage of the Hu Heckler

White House Caves to Chinese Demands

But it wasn't just protestors who weren't allowed to "speak freely."

Generally, when a head of state visits the White House, there is a joint press conference with President Bush. Not today. The White House banned any unscripted questions to President Hu -- to save him any potential embarrassment at home.

Today's Washington Post editorals include this assessment:

The White House's acquiescence to a Chinese demand that Mr. Hu not be subjected to possibly embarrassing queries about political prisoners, religious freedom or censorship of the Internet symbolizes a major element of Mr. Bush's policy -- his willingness to relegate China's worsening performance on political freedom and human rights to a back burner.
But the visit will "look" good on television -- even if there's little sound of consequence. (The White House/WashPost)

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