Bush unlikely to boycott Olympics opening ceremony

April 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
For President Bush, it would seem a small gesture to make a big point: Staying away from the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Summer Olympics would send a clear signal of U.S. anger over China's crackdown against anti-Beijing Tibetan protesters.British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not attend the opening ceremonies. John McCain, the Republican senator Bush has endorsed as his successor, says he would go only if China improved its rights record. And the two Democratic presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, are urging Bush to miss the ceremonies.

Yet Bush is giving no indication he will skip the event. Too much may be at stake for him to do so.

Any Olympic protest by the United States would deeply offend a proud Beijing leadership that hopes the games will show China's emergence as a new world power. It also would run the risk of hindering a host of international efforts the Bush administration needs China's help to solve, including efforts to confront Myanmar's military junta and North Korean and apparently Iranian nuclear programs. China holds a veto on the U.N. Security Council, and the U.S. and Chinese economies, as well as many of the countries' political efforts around the world, are increasingly intertwined.

Pressed repeatedly by reporters this week, the White House said Bush is attending the Olympics but would not announce his specific schedule so far ahead of the games, which begin Aug. 8. The administration did not rule out the possibility of Bush missing the opening ceremonies.


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