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Chinese Students Greet Bush Warmly, Listen Skeptically


President Bush spoke to students at one of China's most prestigious universities Friday about American values, liberty and faith - on the last day of his visit to Beijing. The students greeted Mr. Bush warmly but listened skeptically.

President Bush spoke to an audience of about 300 students at Qinghua University, a school well known for turning out graduates with engineering and technical skills, and many of China's leaders, including China's Vice President Hu Jintao.

Mr. Hu, widely expected to take over from Chinese President Jiang Zemin, introduced Mr. Bush.

The students greeted the American president with applause, but were quiet during most of his speech, a brief lecture about the value of liberty and the need to temper freedom with the rule of law.

Afterward, the students repeatedly questioned Mr. Bush about U.S. actions regarding Taiwan.

Mr. Bush told them Washington wants a "peaceful resolution" of the dispute over the island that China regards as a renegade province. Later several students and public policy professor, Fu Jun, said the answer was not satisfying. "Peaceful settlement can logically lead to two conditions, one is unification, the other is independence (for Taiwan). I guess what people want to hear is reunification," he said. "The American [president] was very ambiguous on that."

Taiwan has been ruled separately from China ever since a political spilt in the 1949 civil war. Washington is pledged to help defend Taiwan if China makes an unprovoked attack on the island.

This computer science major said he resented Mr. Bush's comments about liberty, democracy, and the rule of law, saying Mr. Bush made them only because he failed to understand Chinese society.

But several other students said they appreciated Mr. Bush's visit to China and their school. Mr. Bush, in his speech, he shows great friendship toward our country," said one student.

Mr. Bush won applause from his skeptical audience by saying American students and U.S. officials could learn a lot by visiting China, and urging Chinese students to come visit the United States. Architecture student Zhang Yaxuan liked the idea. "The people of America have some misunderstandings of China, so we should have more chances to understand each other," he said.

But when a student asked if President Bush would urge his college student daughters to study in China, the most powerful man in the world drew laughter from the college audience by saying his daughters don't listen to him very much.

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