Giving a background briefing at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, D.C. on November 13, 2006 on President Bush’s trips to Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia, the Senior Administration Official responded to a question on issues that will come up during his meeting with President Hu Jintao, saying, “I’m sure the issue, as it has before, the Dalai Lama will come up between the two leaders because of the importance that we have placed on believing that a dialogue needs to be a strong dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama to move toward some resolution of a very longstanding issue.”
President Bush is scheduled to depart today for Southeast Asia, his second trip to Singapore and Indonesia and his first trip to Vietnam. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum or APEC is being held from November 12 to 19, 2006 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The official reiterated President Bush’s “personal strong interest in the subject of religious freedom worldwide, and every meeting he’s had with a Chinese leader since he came into office he has discussed the issue of personal freedom and religious freedom.”
The official continued, “He puts it in this context, and I think it’s important to understand, he believes that it is good for China. It is not so much that the United States is asking China to do something that is being imposed on them, but rather that China and President Hu talk about creating a harmonious society. Harmonious societies, in our view, are societies where people are allowed to express their personal individuality, their personal freedom, the right to gather and worship in a fashion that they wish to. And so I think you can be assured that the President will, once again, raise these issues with President Hu during their meeting. I’m sure the issue, as it has before, the Dalai Lama will come up between the two leaders because of the importance that we have placed on believing that a dialogue needs to be a strong dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama to move toward some resolution of a very longstanding issue.”