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Bush phones China's president about Tibet protesters

  • Story Highlights
  • Bush tells Hu Jintao he is concerned about harsh treatment of protesters
  • Bush urges Chinese president to talk with Dalai Lama's representatives
  • Protesters say 140 people have died in protests in Tibet against China
  • Chinese authorities say the death toll is much lower
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush called Chinese President Hu Jintao Wednesday to express his concern about China's crackdown on protesters in Tibet, the White House said.

China's policy on Tibet has led to protests in many parts of the world, this one in South Korea.

Bush also "encouraged the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama's representatives and to allow access for journalists and diplomats," the statement said.

Protesters say about 140 of their number have died in the past several weeks during the longest-running uprisings in Tibet against Chinese rule in 20 years.

The protests have brought a spotlight to China's spotty human rights record and embarrassed its Communist leaders in the weeks before the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Chinese authorities have issued a much lower death toll and said most of those killed were "innocent victims" -- Han Chinese targeted by Tibetans.

The U.S. will not boycott the Olympics, the White House has said, maintaining the games are about athletics, not politics.

The protests have been timed to coincide with the run-up to the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing in August. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday he was leaving open the possibility he may skip the opening ceremonies because of the protests.

Bush and Hu also discussed issues including Taiwan; North Korea's denuclearization; and Burma, the White House statement said. Video Watch a report on Bush's phone call and other foreign policy issues »

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Bush also told Hu a mistake was made in shipping nuclear missile fuses to Taiwan, The Associated Press reported. National security adviser Stephen Hadley said the president broached the subject only briefly during the call.

The U.S. military delivered to Taiwan electrical fuses for an intercontinental ballistic missile, raising concerns about relations between the U.S. and China. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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