State Media: World Leaders Praise China
President Bush dedicated the new $434 million U.S. Embassy in Beijing today and said it is a symbol of the deepening ties between the two countries, but there was little news about this in the Chinese media.
Bush has become a virtual persona non grata in China over the past 24 hours following a strong speech he made criticizing the host country's human rights practices.
In the months leading up to the Beijing Olympics, many world leaders struggled with whether or not to attend. Given China's increasing influence in business matters across oceans, those who said no to the invitation knew they risked possible repercussions. But many heads of state found it hard to ignore China's involvement in Darfur, the violence in Tibet, its roundup of dissidents and other human rights issues.
To the ire of China, a handful of leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the head of the European Parliament, decided not to attend.
The great majority, however, are now in Beijing and will be attending the Opening Ceremony that begins tonight. In total, leaders from over 50 countries will be attending the Olympics.
Initially, it seemed that the biggest coup for China was that Bush would attend. Leader of China's biggest economic partner and sometime political rival, he had initially refused to commit either way. When he agreed to attend, he became the first U.S. head to attend an Olympics on foreign soil. But Bush rankled his hosts with yesterday's speech.
Publicly, the Chinese government has barely acknowledged the incident happened and seems to have a news blackout regarding Bush and the speech.
Instead, the state media has trotted out other world leaders who have positive things to say about China.
--Ariana Eunjung Cha
Here are some sample quotes from Xinhua:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy:
"To prepare for the Olympic Games, China has given its best. If organizing the Games were a sport, I am sure you would agree with me that China deserves a gold medal."
"To this China which improves every day, I address a warm message of friendship; a historic, unfailing and immovable friendship, which links the French people to the Chinese people," he said.
Princess Haya of Jordan, the wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai:
[The Princess] thinks the coming Beijing Olympics will be a success because of the excellent organization, fantastic facilities, and the warmness of Chinese people. She says sports have far greater influence upon people than the power of politics and languages. Olympic Games are vehicles for the world peace and mutual understanding of different nations.
Israeli President Shimon Peres:
A poem written by the president glorifying "the same dream of glory, of harmony, of peace."
"Birds of all feathers come and sing together,
A hymn of hope in an Olympic nest.
Forget your borders, ignore your cages and fly free.
Reject your different nightmares and have one dream.
The same dream, of glory, of harmony, of peace.
An equal dream for poor and rich, black and white. An equal right to compete and champion.
Run and throw, shoot and swim and pin, row and hit.
You can be the best on our globe.
Win, don't kill; lose, don't hate; Hope, don't regret.
Go home with an olive branch in your lips: together in harmony.
Breathing fresh air and singing for the newly born in the cradles and the nests."
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