New York Times: Pelosi Wants Bush to Weigh Skipping Olympic Ceremony
By CARL HULSE
WASHINGTON — Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, suggested Tuesday that President Bush consider skipping the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing to protest China’s actions in Tibet, its overall human rights record and its trade policies.
The speaker, a California Democrat who has just returned from a meeting with the Dalai Lama in India, said a high-profile boycott of the opening festivities, which are typically a celebration of the host country, could send a strong message without interfering with the Games themselves.
“The president of the United States, if he is going to give credibility to the Chinese government, he should also take the time to say to them we are very concerned, not only about human rights, which are a very important value to us, but we are also concerned about our trade situation,” Ms. Pelosi said in an interview.
Ms. Pelosi, a longtime critic of China, said German representatives to the Games had already said they would not attend the opening ceremony in August, and the idea had been raised by other foreign officials as a way to show support for Tibetans seeking more independence from China. Ms. Pelosi made it clear that she was not advocating any interference with the sporting events.
She did say that if the International Olympic Committee wanted to portray the Games as a gathering that transcends sports, its members should hold the host country to high human rights standards.
“They are a committee that organizes sporting events,” she said. “If they are going to contend that they are something beyond that, then the country that is honored with the Olympic Games should honor its commitments.”
The spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, Jiang Yu, said: “If someone wants to use the Olympic Games to flatter themselves, it will not succeed. If they don’t participate, it is the same as leaving the Olympic family. It will undermine their own interests.”
Mr. Bush intends to attend the Olympics, and the White House said he was not considering bypassing the opening ceremony.
“The president views the Olympics as a sporting event and an important opportunity to support America’s athletes,” said Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman. “He has also made it very clear that the Olympics will shine a bright light on China regarding a variety of issues.”
Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin, who made the trip with Ms. Pelosi, said it would be premature to make a decision on attendance of the ceremony now, but that China should be aware that its actions are being closely watched as the Games approach.