President Bush is in Japan where he will give a major speech on U.S. policy in Asia later today
In the keynote address of his eight-day trip to Asia, President Bush will call on Chinese leaders to give their people greater freedoms to express themselves, to worship without state control, and to print Bibles and other sacred texts without fear of punishment.
According to an advanced text of his speech, Mr. Bush will say that as the Chinese people grow more prosperous their demands for political freedoms will grow as well. As China reforms its economy, President Bush will say its leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is opened even a crack, it cannot be closed.
In contrast, President Bush will say that modern Taiwan is advancing freedom at all levels, delivering prosperity and creating a democratic Chinese society.
That comparison is likely to bring criticism from Beijing where Mr. Bush will also stop during this trip. The president will say that his critique of China and praise for Taiwan does not change America's one-China policy which continues to stress the need for dialogue to resolve those differences peacefully.
In his speech at Kyoto's Kaikan hall, President Bush will also criticize the government in Burma, a country rich in human talent and natural resources where he says millions of people struggle to stay alive. The president will accuse the Burmese military of widespread abuses including rape, torture, execution, forced labor, child soldiers, and religious persecution. He will say that the people of Burma live in the darkness of tyranny but the light of freedom shines in their hearts and one day they will have it.
President Bush will also say he is concerned about freedom in Northeast Asia where the pursuit of nuclear weapons by North Korea threatens to destabilize the region. The United States, China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea are all part of talks aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
While those talks have made some progress, U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley says he does not expect any breakthroughs during this trip, which is built around the annual meeting of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, or APEC.
This year's summit is in South Korea where Mr. Bush will say much of the work will focus on containing a potentially calamitous outbreak of Avian Flu. That disease has already killed more than 60 people in Asia and it is feared the virus could mutate into a form capable of spreading between humans.
President Bush will say that every nation in the world has an interest in helping detect and contain a potential outbreak of Avian Flu before it spreads. That he will say means greater openness, greater transparency, and greater cooperation.