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Clinton: Bush should skip Olympic opening ceremonies

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Clinton: Bush should skip Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing, China
  • She pointed to recent protests in Tibet and China's stance on violence in Darfur
  • Clinton: Bush "has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China"
  • Sen. Barack Obama has said he is torn in his views on the issue
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By Rebecca Sinderbrand
CNN Associate Political Editor
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton called on President Bush Monday to boycott the opening of this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

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Sen. Hillary Clinton called on President Bush Monday to skip the Olympic ceremonies in China.

In a statement released by her campaign Monday, the New York senator pointed to recent protests in Tibet; and to the Chinese government's failure to pressure the government of Sudan to end the violence in Darfur.

"These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China," said Clinton.

"At this time, and in light of recent events, I believe President Bush should not plan on attending the opening ceremonies in Beijing, absent major changes by the Chinese government." Interactive: Map of the Olympic torch route »

"Americans will stand strong in support of freedom of religious and political expression and human rights," Clinton said. "Americans will also stand strong and root for the success of American athletes who have worked hard and earned the right to compete in the Olympic Games of 2008." Video Watch Olympic torch relay protests »

Last month, Clinton -- who has long advocated a tougher approach toward the Chinese government -- declined to call for a U.S. boycott of the Olympic Games, but called for greater pressure leading up to the summer event in Beijing.

"I think that what's happening in Tibet is deeply troubling, and this is a pattern of the Chinese government with respect to their treatment of Tibet," Clinton said at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania.

"I don't think we should wait until the Olympics to make sure that our views are known." Video Watch protesters scale the Golden Gate Bridge »

Sen. Barack Obama has said he is torn in his views on the issue.

"I'm of two minds about this," said the Illinois senator in a CBS interview last week. "On the one hand, I think that what's happened in Tibet, [and] China's support of the Sudanese government in Darfur, is a real problem."

But, he added, "I'm hesitant to make the Olympics a site of political protest because I think it's partly about bringing the world together."

Last summer, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson -- then a Democratic presidential candidate -- said the United States should boycott the Olympics entirely if China did not take a more active role in ending the conflict in Darfur.

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"We need China," Richardson said at the June 3 CNN presidential primary debate, "which has enormous leverage over Darfur. If the Chinese don't want to do this, we say to them, maybe we won't go to the Olympics."

Sen. Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, disagreed with that approach. "I don't think [boycotting] gets you there. It will delay the kind of influence and support China should support," Dodd responded. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Hillary ClintonSummer OlympicsGeorge W. Bush

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