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Ex-Chinese leader doesn't 'trust' Bible: Bush

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 9, 2010
Former US president George W. Bush said in a memoir out Tuesday that he pressed China's leaders on religious freedom but ex-president Jiang Zemin told him bluntly that he did not "trust" the Bible.

Bush, a born-again Christian, said he did not "hector or lecture" China's leaders about religious freedom but tried to show them by his actions that religious people can be "peaceful and productive citizens."

"In one of our first meetings, I explained to President Jiang that faith was a vital part of my life and that I studied the Word every day," Bush wrote in his book, "Decision Points."

"I told him I planned to raise freedom of worship in our conversations. 'I read the Bible,' he replied, 'but I don't trust what it says,'" Bush wrote.

Bush said he also told Jiang's successor, President Hu Jintao, about his plans to personally present the Congressional Gold Medal to Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in 2007.

"I met with the Dalai Lama five times during my presidency and I found him to be a charming, peaceful man," Bush wrote.

Bush recalled that Hu told him that the event with the Dalai Lama "will draw a very strong reaction from the Chinese people." Bush retorted in the memoir: "What he meant was that it would draw a strong reaction from the government."

Bush's conferment of the medal marked the only time that a US president has appeared in public alongside the Dalai Lama, who fled Chinese rule in 1959 and enjoys a strong following in the United States.

President Barack Obama received the Dalai Lama at the White House in February but closed the meeting to the press.

But Bush defied some human rights campaigners in 2008 when he went to Beijing to attend the Olympic Games, a decision he strongly defended in his memoir.

"The Beijing Olympics turned out to be a phenomenal success -- and a lot of fun," Bush wrote, saying the event showed the world "the beauty and creativity of China."

"My hope is that the Games also gave the Chinese people a glimpse of the wider world, including the possibility of an independent press, open Internet and free speech," Bush wrote.

"Time will tell what the long-term impact of the Beijing Olympics will be. But history shows that once people get a taste of freedom, they eventually want more," he said.

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