Yesterday President Bush apologized to China’s President Hu Jintao for a three-minute outburst from a woman in the photo gallery calling for freedom from the Falun Gong religious sect in China.
Having lived through the shame of the Clinton administration and becoming a father a few years ago, I know that there are several different ways to parse the words “I’m sorry.” They range from “I’m sorry, please forgive me, it was all my fault” to “I’m only sorry that I got caught.”
I think the President meant I’m sorry for this breach of protocol. But I think Bush should have qualified the apology to say something about our nation being stronger for allowing differences of opinion. Suppose he said, “President Hu, we honor freedom of speech even when we might disagree with what is said. Unlike your government we won’t torture and kill this dissenter as a lesson to others.”
I think that President Bush missed a golden opportunity to call for
· releasing religious and political prisoners
· ceasing forced sterilization and abortion
· stopping the harvesting of organs from prisoners for use in transplants
· ending subsidies of Chinese currency to falsely prop-up their trade balance
· halting the proliferation of arms to Iran, North Korea and other nations
· suspending saber rattling and intimidation of Taiwan
· lifting government restrictions on the Internet
The meeting with Hu seems like a wasted opportunity to reign-in the tyranny of the Chinese government.