A Chinese democracy activist not only urged President Bush last week to defend dissidents during his Olympic trip to Beijing but also took the less usual step of raising the issue of Chinese spying in the U.S.
Harry Wu, director of the Laogai Research Foundation, a Washington group that monitors Chinese human rights abuses and the political prison system in China, said in an interview that he raised the issue of Chinese intelligence agents at a meeting Tuesday at the White House.
Mr. Bush will make a brief statement in China in support of human rights and religious freedom after attending an officially sanctioned Chinese church service, said Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman.
Mr. Johndroe also confirmed that Mr. Wu raised the issue of Chinese intelligence gathering during the meeting involving four other democracy activists.
Several of the activists gave the president lists of Chinese political and religious prisoners of conscience who are being held by Chinese authorities. Their hope is that the president will press Beijing to release the prisoners.
China, however, denounced the meeting with the dissidents. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday that United States had “rudely interfered in China's internal affairs” by meeting the rights activists.
Mr. Wu said he raised the issue of Chinese human rights abuses and intelligence gathering after the president asked about the problems of China.
“I said, 'Mr. President, I want to remind you that you as president of the United States, I hope you care about the problem Chinese agents,' ” Mr. Wu said.
Mr. Bush then asked him to explain further what he meant, and Mr. Wu said he told the president that he was referring to the problem of “Chinese spies.”
“There are too many spies inside America,” Mr. Wu said he told the president.
Chinese spying activities appear to have increased sharply in recent years. At least 16 China-related spying and illegal technology transfer cases have been uncovered since 2005. Among them is a case involving Pentagon weapons analyst Gregg Bergersen, who pleaded guilty in March to disclosing defense secrets, and a California family spy ring headed by Chi Mak, a defense contractor convicted of supplying embargoed defense technology to China.
Others who took part in the meeting with the president were former Red Guard turned anti-communist Wei Jingsheng, ethnic Uighur rights activist Rebiya Kadeer, religious freedom advocate Bob Fu and long-time democracy advocate Sasha Gong.
Ms. Gong said she urged Mr. Bush during the meeting to press Beijing to have a more open information-exchange program with the United States.
“The Chinese official media is free to operate in our land, and their newspapers and broadcasts can be seen here,” she said in an interview. “Our media is not free to operate in China. The Voice of America is often jammed, and Web sites are blocked.”