The conflicted nature of George Bush's relationship with China could not have been more clearly illustrated by what happened on the White House lawn yesterday when he greeted Communist Chinese President Hu. In his welcoming speech, Bush called for, among other things, more freedom of speech and religion in China, and then, when a woman in the audience shouted to Hu for more freedom for the Falun Gong, she was arrested.
Here's what Bush said:
"I'll continue to discuss with President Hu the importance of respecting human rights and freedoms of the Chinese people. China has become successful because the Chinese people are experience the freedom to buy, and to sell, and to produce -- and China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship.
Here is how CNN reported it:
She shouted in English, "President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong!" and in Chinese, "President Hu, your days are numbered."
The Chinese government condemns the spiritual movement Falun Gong as a cult. China began a crackdown on the group in 1999. The Epoch Times, which disavowed the protest, is affiliated with the Falun Gong movement.
The Secret Service identified the woman as Wang Wenyi, 47, a naturalized U.S. citizen who is working as a journalist for The Epoch Times and who had a one-day press pass that gave her access to the platform.
She was charged with disorderly conduct and could face additional federal charges, said service spokesman Eric Zahren.
Having her arrested must surely have felt familiar to Hu. How ironic that Bush would urge Hu to allow "the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship" and then arrest a Chinese American for speaking out against Hu, and follow it all up with an apology to him. I suppose we can be happy this did not happen in China, because she probably would already have been shot.
Just how seriously can Hu take Bush's call for more free speech in China, when Bush does what Hu would have done in China. It's one thing to remove the woman, but it's quite another to arrest her and to have her face possible federal prosecution. Hu will learn precisely the wrong thing from this incident.
Isn't Bush just kidding?