US President George W. Bush said on Sunday it would be an “affront to the Chinese people” if he did not attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, and Japan’s prime minister announced he would go as well.
Bush, after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda ahead of a summit of top industrialised countries, said he did not need to boycott the ceremony to show his stance on religious freedom and human rights in China. “I’ve had to honour of dealing with two Chinese presidents, and every time that I have visited with them, I have talked about religious freedom and human rights,” Bush said. “I don’t need the Olympics to express my concerns.”
“Not going to the opening ceremony for the games would be an affront to the Chinese people,” he added.
Bush, in Japan to attend the summit of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised countries, announced several days ago that he would go to the Olympics ceremony.
Fukuda, a longtime proponent of stronger relations between Japan and China, had not previously said whether he would attend the ceremony.
He told reporters on Sunday that he had been trying to resolve a scheduling conflict.
“Now I’ve found out that it’s possible, so I, too, officially announce I will attend the ceremony,” he said.
Some world leaders have said they may boycott the Olympics’ August 8 opening event to protest the recent Chinese security crackdown in Tibet.