Censorship

Bush on China: Don't Hold Political Prisoners

|

President George W. Bush is set to arrive in Beijing, China, today for the start of the Olympics. Here's a snippet from a speech he gave in Thailand before heading on to his final destination:

"America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists," Bush is to say in the marquee speech of his three-nation Asia trip. "We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labor rights—not to antagonize China's leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential."

More here.

I hope he managed to squeeze in a word about freedom of expression in Thailand, which just banned sales of the video game Grand Theft Auto.

And I hope when he returns to the U.S., Bush will consider cases of godawful and morally corrupt prosecution like that of Charlie Lynch, the California medical marijuana dispensary owner just found guilty of selling drugs in federal court.

But the message to China is a solid one, though suggesting freedom is a means to economic fulfillment is misguided in my opinion—it's an end in itself. But here's hoping that Bush's words are not simply meant for Western audiences who seem increasingly uncomfortable with engagement with China.

NEXT: "I'll See You at the Debate, Bitches"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I hope he managed to squeeze in a word about freedom of expression in Thailand, which just banned sales of the video game Grand Theft Auto.

    And I hope when he returns to the U.S., Bush will consider cases of godawful and morally corrupt prosecution like that of Charlie Lynch, the California medical marijuana dispensary owner just found guilty of selling drugs in federal court.

    Hope springs eternal.

    And then I wake up.

  2. . . . the California medical marijuana dispensary owner just found guilty of selling drugs in federal court.

    Well, I am all for challenging stupid laws like these, but don’t you think he could have selected a different location to engage in this commerce?

  3. Hope springs eternal.

    And then I wake up.

    ’til human voices wake us, and we drown

  4. If I actually believed Obama would be significantly different regarding drug enforcement, I could actually muster some enthusiasm for him being president. But I don’t.

  5. Whatever you think of federal MJ laws, Lynch is not a political prisoner, and to even compare him to such is sickening. Let’s not get hysterical.

  6. If China really is serious about its PR campaign it’d better stop doing crap-o like this:

    http://tinyurl.com/6mcx4e

    P.S. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not really our own affairs. I’m talking to others who think otherwise.

  7. Occam’s toothbrush,

    Not to be pedantic, but I don’t think anyone has said Lynch is a political prisoner. Yet.

  8. And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me.

    If I actually believed Obama would be significantly different regarding drug enforcement, I could actually muster some enthusiasm for him being president. But I don’t.

    My thing is that he sounds (and from all reports on demeanor) is open to argument and revising positions. McCain is not. Hope is better than despair, even if it is *really thin*. Of course, McCain could suddenly and inexplicably implode (perhaps literally) and then we could have an Obama-Barr race.

    Then I’d actually be conflicted.

  9. NP,

    I was under the impression that the “Bush on China: Don’t Hold Political Prisoners” was intended to be ironic. Otherwise it’s a fairly banal and insipid title, well below Mr Gillespie’s standards.

  10. Occam’s toothbrush,

    You know, I used to cavil at less-than-brilliant headlines me-self, but I prefer banality to only attempted brilliance, which I’d say 80% of blog headlines fall under. So I personally don’t care, but hey, you’re free to go your own way, baby.

  11. OT,

    Let’s not get hysterical.

    OMG! A sexist refrence!

    End of the world tonight on the 10:00 news . . .

  12. Obama’s not a baby-boomer.

    McCain still looks at drug laws as a proxy war for the hippies vs. squares fights of the 60s. Remember his shot at Hillary over the Woodstock visitor’s center?

    We’re not going to get anywhere on this question until the people whose political awakening came during the Sixties are off the stage.

  13. Parsimonious dental instrument:

    When someone is arrested primarily to jump-start a new government initiative or defend a crumbling one, contrary to local law and any semblance of justice, what do you call that?

    The man is a prisoner because of particularly dirty politics playing out regarding the legality of his chosen merchandise. QED.

  14. What joe said. Anyone who grew up with Nixon & Carter is much more likely to want easy access to marijuana.

  15. Just as I expected, my 9:18am post can now be safely discarded.

  16. Obama’s not a baby-boomer.

    I understand your meaning, but actually, yes he is.

    The post-war baby boomers are generally considered to be those born from 1946 to 1964. Obama’s 1961 birthdate is in that range, though admittedly late.

    For that matter most of the 60s activists were not boomers, but that’s another matter.

    Anyone who grew up with Nixon & Carter is much more likely to want easy access to marijuana.

    You mean young baby-boomers?

  17. Issac – that’s who I grew up with (along with Reagan), and I’m an X’er.

    As proof of my generational status, I will now hold you in disdain while thinking of more cynical comments.

  18. Gee, could you check my spelling, too? Yes, let’s use the fact that the Sixties and its politics refer to a historical period that doesn’t line up precisely with the years 1960-1970 to pretend not to understand what the Sixties were.

    I’ve never understood the urge to pretend not to understand a point you actually understand and agree with.

  19. Just as I expected, my 9:18am post can now be safely discarded.

    Glad to oblige.

    Just out of curiosity, why is it such a big deal to call a politically-motivated trial and imprisonment what it is?

    It makes no difference that it occurs in a democracy and the verdict is owned by the people.

    Just ask Socrates.

    By no means am I intending to imply that it is in the same league as Nelson Mandela/Jesus, but still, a political crime is a political crime, and any deprivation of liberty on those grounds should have people gnashing their teeth, rending garments, baying at the moon, and shooting kneecaps.

    Or perhaps I’m missing the point of this “liberty” stuff.

  20. And I hope when he returns to the U.S., Bush will consider cases of godawful and morally corrupt prosecution like that of Charlie Lynch, the California medical marijuana dispensary owner just found guilty of selling drugs in federal court.

    And I hope to win the Mega-Millions lottery prize. My hope is more realistic.

  21. Lighten up, joe. It was a joke, and not directed at you.

  22. Elemenope,

    I don’t mean to start a parsing contest. but your own acknowledgment that the Lynch prosecution is not the same thing as Mandela’s ordeal shows why it’s a mistake to call Lynch a political prisoner. And I also wouldn’t necessarily characterize the Lynch case as politically motivated. Racism was already almost universally condemned when Mandela was behind bars, but not so with the WOD: The majority of people still think illegal drugs are the evil that they’re really not. It’s just a sad result of our stupid and misguided drug policy; elevating it into to some type of a political witch-hunt is a bad call, IMO.

  23. Oops, you were talking to Isaac, not me. Never mind.

  24. J sub D,

    When discussing politics – which is what we’re doing here – the term “Baby Boomer” refers to a generation defined in terms of a shared political experience, more than shared birth dates.

    We could pretend not to underatand what the term “the politics of the 60s” refers to, and talk about the cuts in marginal income tax rates Kennedy pushed through, but what would the point be?

    Pedantry for the sake of pedantry.

  25. joe | August 6, 2008, 10:17am

    Reread my first sentence before you go all pissy.

    On second thought, just go fuck yourself.

  26. If you don’t remember where you were when you heard JFK was shot, you aren’t a boomer. Or you have forgotten. BHO isn’t a boomer. Yes the birth rate might have still been high in 61, but those kids are different than boomers.

  27. The majority of people still think illegal drugs are the evil that they’re really not. It’s just a sad result of our stupid and misguided drug policy; elevating it into to some type of a political witch-hunt is a bad call, IMO.

    Just because the issue is a political winner does not in any way diminish the political aspect; if anything it heightens it.

    And besides, I think it’s fairly clear that this fed action was a test balloon to target a major political irritant in the WoD, namely those crazy Californians and their dispensaries.

  28. I just love the thought of George Bush lambasting a country over the way it mistreats prisoners and denies them the right to a fair trial.

    This is as good as Sam Brownback complaining about massive, unwarranted surveillance in China.

  29. “…California medical marijuana dispensary owner just found guilty of selling drugs in federal court.”

    What was he doing selling drugs in court, anyway? HIYO!

  30. If China really is serious about its PR campaign it’d better stop doing crap-o like this

    America’s own dealings with the corrupt Sudanese government prevent us from making a stink about China’s involvement there.

  31. Elemenope,

    Not sure if you’ll ever read this, but what I meant to say was that the Lynch case has political and societal support behind it. And this would still be true even if the case indeed involved political targeting, though I don’t think there’s yet clear evidence to support your assertion.

  32. Rhywun, I was speaking as a citizen, not as a representative of the government. And I think even you would concede that our own dealings with the Sudanese government don’t compare in degree with China’s.

  33. Just back from Finland and Estonia (a place where people are well enlightened on world politics and enjoy healthy economic status). Much of the world (and the US included) advised Bush to stay away from the Olympics. With huge mess he and his team have created ( including Guantanamo Bay “prisoners”), I’d say he has No Business Preaching to China or the rest of the world.

  34. I don’t understand. The Olympics is a forum for sports. If the Olympics were held in a US city, would we be up in arms protesting human right issues on Guantanomo Bay? Treatment of African & Latin American’s? Until the US cleans up it’s own act, it has no business going around the world chiding others. America’s dominance in the world stage is over, it’s culture and people are eroding.

  35. Bush said “America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates, and religious activists,”, which is quite ironic if you like at Guantanamo Bay, where religious activists are detained for several years without a trial. And after these several years they are tried for a tribiunal, where they are not allowed to look at the evidence against them. Like I said, quite ironic.

  36. Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, Guantanamo, …

  37. China is being respectful to Bush. Bush has the nerve to talk about China when the US tortures, rapes and kills innocent men/women/children for ever. Now China sees the chauffeur of Bin Laden is guilty for nothing when it was the US and Saudis who did the attack on 9/11. Jose Padilla did nothing but lie and the FBI knew he was lying but tortured and drugged him so now he’s brain dead. Bush still lies and says we don’t torture. I horror was when the US tortured and raped a child and woman that said it all.

  38. lmao@jackie

    babbelfish much?

  39. From just a few myopic commenters:

    DH: “I’d say he has No Business Preaching to China or the rest of the world”
    vviccio: “Guantanamo, Guantanamo…(etc.)”
    Jackie: “Bush has the nerve to talk about China…(etc)

    Why ‘myopic’ comments?

    Fi

  40. So…to the ‘myopic’ commenters…

    First…what you know (or THINK you know) is because the US is way more open than China and has been for the last century regarding access as to ‘what goes on in there’. You know nothing in comparison to what you ‘know’ about any mistakes made by the US (expecially by THIS administration).

    Secondly…ask the Tibetians about what they think about Chinese “interferring in their internal affairs”.

    Third…as the citizens of Dafur what they think of Chinese “interferring in their internal affairs”

    Does there have to be a ‘Fourth’ or ‘One Hundreth’ example of China being the LAST government on earth to lecture the US OR President Bush on ANYTHING…much less on ‘interferring’ in any country’s internal affair.

    Oh…and BTW…I am NOT a Bush supporter. Didn’t vote for him either time and think he will go down as the worst US president ever…I just look at comments like those comments above as totally ignorant in realtion to the ‘real world’ history of China’s actions compered with even the worst by the US

  41. China says that we shouldn’t interfere with it’s internal affairs. It is a country which was conquered by China some 50 years ago. Tibet is no more a part of China than Vichy France was a part of Nazi Germany-It is a conquered and subjugated nation with its own writing, language, religion, and ethnicity. Only our ignorance of geography and history makes it possible for China to publicly say that Tibet is part of China. Tibetans who oppose Chinese occupation are ‘the Resistance,’ freedom fighters, not rioters or terrorists.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.