WASHINGTON – China’s crackdown in Tibet will not cause President Bush to cancel his planned trip to the Beijing Olympics, the White House said Thursday.
At the same time, the administration interceded on behalf of Tibetan protesters and requested a firsthand look at how Chinese police were dealing with them.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Wednesday night for about 20 minutes, urging restraint and also Chinese talks with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans’ spiritual leader.
To underscore U.S. disapproval of the crackdown, Rice then told reporters on Thursday that “we are certainly concerned about the situation in Tibet” and that she hoped China would exercise restraint.
Presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush’s position is that the Olympics “should be about the athletes and not necessarily about politics.”
She said that Bush, in accepting the invitation last year from Chinese President Hu Jintao to attend the Olympics, told him the games would “shine a spotlight on all things Chinese.”
“That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Perino added.