This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from August 6, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have spoken clearly and candidly and consistently with China's leaders about our deep concerns over religious freedom and human rights.
The United States believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings. So America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents and human rights advocates and religious activists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, GUEST HOST: President Bush delivering some tough talk for Chinese officials. He delivered that in Thailand before heading to Beijing for the Olympic Games.
Soon after that speech from Thailand, the Chinese Foreign Ministry released a statement saying, quote, "We firmly oppose any words or acts that interfere in other countries' internal affairs using human rights, and religion, and other issues."
The president is now in Beijing.
Some analytical observations about the day's events, Bill Sammon, Senior White House Correspondent of The Washington Examiner, and Jeff Birnbaum, columnist for The Washington Post, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.
Well, after he delivered that speech from Thailand, U.S. officials believed that that would soften the blow. He didn't give the message on Chinese soil.
The White House press charter then arrived in Beijing and say on the runway for three hours as Chinese officials wanted to go through each piece of television equipment twice.
Bill, what about the back and forth and the message that was delivered?
BILL SAMMON, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: The Olympics are supposed to be about the athletes. And there is a fine line between using this as an occasion to raise concerns about human rights and religious freedoms, and overtly politicizing the games, which I think Jimmy Carter did in 1980 when he had a boycott of the Olympics. That ends up hurting the athletes, and that's not what you want to do.
I think Bush has sort of got the right balance here. You go to the games, you speak out against the human rights abuses before you get there, and then privately behind closed doors when you get there, to the leadership there, you attend the church service — it gives him an opportunity to talk about religious freedom.
Besides, Bush is a sports nut. This is about sports. I interviewed him a couple years ago in the Oval Office, and he was telling me about the Beijing games two years in advance. I hadn't even known about them. He said I'm looking forward to going to the Beijing games. He's a jock and a sports nut.
And I think that's was this is about. There is a place for a little of politics, but not too much, and I think he has the right balance.
BAIER: President Bush will meet with China's president Hu Jintau later this week, and, obviously, the White House says he will deliver a firm message there. What about this trip and how it's shaping up, Jeff?
JEFF BIRNBAUM, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I mostly agree with what's been said here.
I think that there's no doubt that the Olympics are war by another means, sort of like diplomacy, that people lay aside weapons and compete on the athletic field, which is a very good place for it to happen, and politics should be laid aside.
I think that President Bush, though, will be criticized, and he probably should be criticized, for being there at the opening ceremonies despite his opposition to the Chinese on human rights and other issues, like the crackdown on religious freedom.
I think that he might have made an additional protest by not being there on the first day, where his presence can be seen as a political statement.
Short of that, though, I think that his decision to criticize the Chinese before he arrives on Chinese soil, at least publicly, was a compromise that allowed the Chinese to maintain face while also making the policy point that he needed to.
The first day, though, I think being there at the opening, which is really the big event, is maybe giving the Chinese a little bit more than an American president should.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Let's be realistic. When you have an event like this, an international event in a dictatorship like in today's China, a president has three choices. He can stay home and boycott. He can go and issue a protest of sorts of varying intensity, as he did in Bangkok, or he can go and say nothing in public and only negotiate in private.
The president, he walked the middle line. But in the end, whatever choice he makes of the three, it will have no effect whatsoever on the trajectory of Chinese history and development.
The Chinese have decided they're going to keep state control of a country as it develops its economy, and they have thousands of years of tradition of centralized dictatorship. It is not a new thing with them, and we are not going to alter it with a presidential statement here or there.
The best definition of a great power I ever heard was one by Hedley Bull, who said "A great power is a country that intervenes against others and is not intervened against."
You don't intervene against China. It's a great power. It has its own internal course. So all of this stuff is internal arguments among ourselves.
I thought the president, given all that, handled himself well. He made the statements he had to make. He made it outside of China so its not spitting in their face, and he will probably speak in private with its leaders.
BIRNBAUM: Charles, if he hadn't gone and raised these issues, you wouldn't have this spotlight now on the human rights abuses and their lack of religious freedom.
And who knows — it can only help. It may change things a little bit, but it's guaranteed it wouldn't have changed things if he hadn't done this.
BAIER: Last word on this panel.
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