McCain Urges Olympic Ceremony Boycott
Updated 2:27 p.m.
By Dan Balz
Republican presidential candidate John McCain added his voice to the growing chorus of officials urging President Bush to consider boycotting the opening ceremonies at the 2008 Olympics in China.
"Unless they change some things pretty quickly, I would not go to the opening ceremonies," McCain said on ABC's "The View" this morning.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has called on President Bush not to attend the opening ceremonies in protest of China's human rights policies and McCain's tough words will add to the pressure on the president.
McCain said he wants to see a halt to the crackdown in Tibet and for the Chinese to engage in conversations with the Dalai Lama. "I would say to the Chinese, 'Look, clean up your act here. This is not acceptable,'" he said.
McCain went on to describe China's behavior as "oppressive and brutal" and said there should be a strong message sent to the government there. He urged Bush to keep open the option of canceling his planned attendance at the opening ceremonies.
Later, the campaign issued the following statement from McCain:
"Our relationship with China is important, and we value our ability to cooperate with the Chinese government on a wide variety of strategic, economic, and diplomatic fronts. But the Chinese government needs to understand that in our modern world, how a nation treats its citizens is a legitimate subject of international concern. China has signed numerous international agreements that make China's treatment of its citizens a subject of legitimate international concern, not just a matter of national sovereignty. To be a responsible stakeholder in the modern world, a government must also be responsible at home, in protecting, not trampling, the rights of its people.
"I deplore the violent crackdown by Chinese authorities and the continuing oppression in Tibet of those merely wishing to practice their faith and preserve their culture and heritage. I have listened carefully to the Dalai Lama and am convinced he is a man of peace who reflects the hopes and aspirations of Tibetans. I urge the government of the People's Republic of China to address the root causes of unrest in Tibet by opening a genuine dialogue with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, aimed at granting greater autonomy. I urge the Chinese authorities to ensure peaceful protest is not met with violence, to release monks and others detained for peacefully expressing their views and to allow full outside access to Tibet.
"I understand and respect Prime Minister Brown's decision not to attend the Olympic opening ceremonies. I believe President Bush should evaluate his participation in the ceremonies surrounding the Olympics and, based on Chinese actions, decide whether it is appropriate to attend. If Chinese policies and practices do not change, I would not attend the opening ceremonies. It does no service to the Chinese government, and certainly no service to the people of China, for the United States and other democracies to pretend that the suppression of rights in China does not concern us. It does, will and must concern us."
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