- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Two of the most outspoken congressional critics of China’s human rights record urged President Bush on Tuesday not to attend the Olympic Games, after Chinese police prevented human rights activists from meeting with them in Beijing.

Republican Reps. Frank R. Wolf of Virginia and Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey said Chinese officials blocked their meeting with activists.

“A meeting we had scheduled for Sunday night with three human rights lawyers never occurred as the three lawyers were threatened and either taken away or placed under house arrest by the police,” Mr. Smith told reporters in Beijing. “Similarly, after we met with senior house church pastor, Zhang Mingxuan, he too was placed under house arrest.”

The incident led both congressmen to call on Mr. Bush to reconsider attending the Olympics.

“I personally believe that unless there’s tremendous progress over the next few weeks whereby they release some of these prisoners, I personally do not believe the president should attend. Nor do I think the secretary of state should attend,” Mr. Wolf said.

A Chinese official said the meeting on Sunday was prevented because it was incompatible with the nature of the congressmen’s visit to China.

“The two U.S. congressmen came to China as guests of the United States Embassy to engage in internal communications and consultations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters. “They should not engage in activities incompatible with the objective of their visit and with their status.”

In Washington, the White House has made clear that Mr. Bush intends to go to China in August for the games but has not said when. “We have not announced the president’s schedule yet,” said White House deputy press secretary Gordon Johndroe.

Some world leaders, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, have threatened to boycott the Aug. 8 opening ceremony to protest the most recent Chinese security crackdown in Tibetan areas of China.

“Tragically, the Olympics has triggered a massive crackdown designed to silence and put beyond reach all those whose views differ from the official ‘harmonious’ government line,” Mr. Smith said. “The crackdown on political dissidents and religious believers and the crushing of cyber dissidents is now going full throttle and shows no signs of abating.”

cThis article is based in part on wire service reports.

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