By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent 1
hour, 26 minutes ago
BEIJING - President Bush was greeted in China with good news about trade and is making a point about religious freedom in this communist nation
by attending church services before meeting top leaders.
Bush hoped to send a visible message about human rights across this land
of 1.3 billion people by worshipping on Sunday at the Gangwashi Church, one of five officially recognized Protestant churches
in Beijing. The State Department cited China this month as one of eight countries of "particular concern" for denying religious
The White House urged China's state-controlled media not to censor news
of Bush's visit.
In a day of talks, the president was expected to prod Chinese leaders about
currency system changes, human rights and the piracy of American movies, computer programs and other copyright material.
Bush also was seeking China's cooperation on North Korea, Iran, Syria and other trouble spots.
China's massive trade surplus with the United States — likely to hit
$200 billion this year — is a political headache for Bush. So it was good news when he heard upon his arrival that Beijing
was buying 70 of Chicago-based Boeing Co.'s 737 planes.
The administration said the purchase was "a testament to how our approach
to China is yielding real results." But Bush said China needs to do more "to provide a level playing field for American farmers
and businesses seeking access to China's market."
He said China had made a good start by promising to protect intellectual
property rights, move toward a more market-based currency and ease the trade imbalance. "But China needs to take action to
ensure these goals are fully implemented," Bush said in his weekly radio address Saturday.
Bush was to meet with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.
was a major issue in the talks, after China's acknowledgment Wednesday
of its first human cases of the disease. New outbreaks among poultry in China are a daily occurrence.
China was the third stop on Bush's Asian trip, which began in Japan with
the president criticizing China's behavior. He suggested China emulate the democratic progress of Taiwan, the self-governed
island that Beijing regards as a renegade province.
The visit to China was to open with a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall
of the People, one the largest buildings in China, on the edge of Tiananmen Square. It was Bush's third trip as president
to China, although he lived here in the 1970s when his father was the top U.S. diplomat in Beijing.
In Bush's view, the U.S. has a mixed relationship with China. His administration
is concerned about China's growing economic and military might and its surging demand for oil — a factor in rising U.S.
China also is a huge and lucrative market for U.S. goods and a partner in
the effort to persuade North Korea to abandon it nuclear weapons program.
"I think we've got a lot of issues to deal with, is the best way to describe
it," Bush said in a pre-trip interview. "China has got influence. China is a big, powerful nation. And, therefore, it's in
our interest that we share ideas and work together."
U.S. officials worry that China's military buildup could threaten American
interests in Asia and eventually turn China into a global economic and political rival. China's expanding missile forces pose
a threat not only to Taiwan and other parts of Asia but potentially even to the U.S.
Bush is pressing China to speed the revaluation of its currency, which U.S.
companies contend is undervalued by as much as 40 percent. That makes Chinese goods cheaper in the United States and American
goods more expensive in China.
"The fundamental question is whether the Chinese will allow market forces
to help drive the movement of their currency," said Faryar Shirzad, the president's deputy national security adviser for international
Mike Green, the National Security Council's senior director for Asian affairs,
said U.S. officials had talked with Chinese officials about news coverage of Bush's visit.
"We've made it clear to them ... that they should give the Chinese people
an opportunity to hear everything the president has to say on U.S.-China relations. ... It's also important that the world
see and the Chinese people see that an expression of faith is a good thing for a healthy and mature society," Green said.