President Bush is going to the Olympics in Beijing, even though both Barack Obama and John McCain say his visit sends the wrong message about China’s disturbing human rights record. On Wednesday, in Thailand, Bush tried to address these concerns:
I have spoken clearly and candidly and consistently with China’s leaders about our deep concerns over religious freedom and human rights. I have met repeatedly with Chinese dissidents and religious believers. The United States believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings. So America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents and human rights advocates and religious activists.
But Bush has made no mention of Darfur, or the Chinese record of arming the genocidal Sudanese regime there. Does this matter? Yes, because Bush himself said he would speak out. Here are Bush’s own words from the 2007 State of the Union: “We will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus and Burma, and continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur.”
Now consider this new report from William Hartung at the New American Foundation:
Beijing has been by far the most egregious violator of international sanctions on Sudan, providing up to 90 percent of the country’s import of small arms and light weapons betweem 2004 and 2006 . . . Chinese companies have helped build at least three weapons factories outside of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum . . . [D]uring the 2004 massacres in Darfur, Chinese-supplied trucks were used to round up 168 people from the village of Wadi Saleh. The villagers were then blindfolded and shot dead . . . China has also been a significant exporter of major weapons systems to the Sudan, ranging from tanks to fighter planes.
The world is watching, Mr. President.
(For more on what is happening in China, keep an eye on TIME’s own China Blog.)
For more, watch this report by CNN on Darfur, China and Bush.