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More Liberty For The Chinese

In a speech in Kyoto, Japan, at the start of an eight-day visit to Asia, President George W. Bush called on the leaders of China to give their people more freedom:

"As China reforms its economy, its leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is open even a crack, it cannot be closed. As the people of China grow in prosperity, their demands for political freedom will grow as well."

Mr. Bush cited the examples of South Korea and Taiwan to show how formerly repressive societies can evolve. He said, "Like South Korea, the people of Taiwan for years lived under a restrictive political state that gradually opened up its economy. And like South Korea, the opening to world markets transformed the island into one of the world's most important trading partners. And like South Korea," he said, "economic liberalization in Taiwan helped fuel its desire for individual political freedom -- because men and women who are allowed to control their own wealth will eventually insist on controlling their own lives and their own future. Like South Korea, modern Taiwan is free and democratic and prosperous. By embracing freedom at all levels," said Mr. Bush, "Taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society."

In his speech, President Bush reaffirmed the "one China" policy, based on the three U.S.-China communiques, the Taiwan Relations Act, and the U.S. belief that there should be no unilateral attempts to change the status quo by either side. "The United States," he said, "will continue to stress the need for dialogue between China and Taiwan that leads to a peaceful resolution of their differences."

Mr. Bush was upbeat about China's future. He said, "Today the Chinese people are better fed, better housed, and enjoy better opportunities than they have ever had in their history." He noted, however, that "the people of China want more freedom to express themselves, to worship without state control, to print Bibles and other sacred texts without fear of punishment. The efforts of China's people to improve their society should be welcomed as part of China's development."

"We encourage China," he said, "to continue down the road of reform and openness -- because the freer China is at home, the greater the welcome it will receive abroad. By meeting the legitimate demands of its citizens for freedom and openness," said Mr. Bush, "China's leaders can help their country grow into a modern, prosperous, and confident nation."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.