President George Bush and President Jiang Zemin

President George Bush and President Jiang Zemin

President Bush began his visit to Beijing on February 21, 2002 with an extensive meeting with President Jiang Zemin during which he urged Jiang to start a dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Briefing the media on the presidential summit, White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said Bush “…mentioned specifically the importance of dialogue with the Vatican and with the Dalai Lama.”

Rice said the Presidents met for an extended period of time in a relatively small group of people, and then went to an extended bilateral group. The first group was five on a side.

Expanding on the meeting, Rice said, “They had an extensive discussion of religious freedom and a really rather long exchange, with the President encouraging President Jiang to think hard about opening dialogue with religious communities and with religious figures. He mentioned specifically the importance of dialogue with the Vatican and with the Dalai Lama, but also with other organized religions, and suggested that perhaps some of them might be invited here to the country.”

In his joint press conference with President Jiang Zemin, Bush did not specifically touched on Tibet. He said, “Our talks were candid, and that’s very positive. The United States shares interests with China, but we also have some disagreements. We believe that we can discuss our differences with mutual understanding and respect.”

In what could be seen as a reference to the Tibetan and related issue, Bush said he stressed on the fact that all people “should be free to choose how they live, how they worship, and how they work.”

Speaking in diplomatic language, Bush said, “China’s future is for the Chinese people to decide. Yet no nation is exempt from the demands of human dignity. All the world’s people, including the people of China, should be free to choose how they live, how they worship, and how they work. Dramatic changes have occurred in China in the last 30 years, and I believe equally dramatic changes lie ahead. These will have a profound impact not only on China itself, but on the entire family of nations. And the United States will be a steady partner in China’s historic transition toward greater prosperity and greater freedom.”

Rice referred twice to Bush’s urgings on the Dalai Lama, in the second instance, saying, “But the President’s emphasis was on opening dialogue with perhaps representatives of Dalai Lama, with the Vatican, and with other religious groups.”

Bush is scheduled to give a public talk at Qinghua University on February 22 morning, which will also be broadcast live on Chinese TV, CCTV-1.

U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibet, Undersecretary Paula J. Dobriansky, is part of the presidential delegation, which also includes the following individuals:

  • Colin L. Powell: Secretary of State;
  • Condoleezza Rice: National Security Advisor;
  • Andrew Card: White House Chief of Staff;
  • Ari Fleischer: White House Press Secretary;
  • Richard A. Boucher: Department Spokesman and Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Public Affairs;
  • Lorne W. Craner: Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor;
  • James A. Kelly: Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and
  • Peter W. Rodman: Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security; Affairs).