At a news conference during last week's G-8 summit in Japan, President Bush explained why he's attending the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Games:

Question: Good afternoon. Mr. President, I'd like to ask you a question about China. I was wondering if you could, first of all, explain a little bit about your thinking behind your decision to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics next month. And more generally, I'm wondering what you would say to the -- your friends and allies in the United States who are very concerned about religious freedom and human rights in China, the situation in Sudan and Burma -- what would you say to them of what has come from your approach to dealing with President Hu over the last seven years ...

Bush: I view the Olympics as a opportunity for me to cheer on our athletes. It's an athletic event. I had the honor of dealing with the Chinese -- two Chinese presidents during my term, and every time I have visited with them, I have talked about religious freedom and human rights. And so, therefore, my decision to go was -- I guess I don't need the Olympics to express my concerns. I've been doing so.

I also believe that the Chinese people are watching very carefully about the decisions by world leaders, and that ... not going to ... the opening ceremony for the Games would be an affront to the Chinese people, which may make it more difficult to ... be able to speak frankly with the Chinese leadership. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing. And I'm looking forward to cheering the athletes. I think it will be -- I think it would be good for these athletes who have worked hard to see their president waving that flag. ...

You know, in some areas we've made progress on a common agenda; other areas we haven't. But nevertheless, I have been very clear in my view that, for example, a whole society is one that honors religion, and that people shouldn't fear religious people. After all, truly religious people love their neighbor, and ... China benefits from people being able to worship freely. ...

And by the way, as you know, I'm the first president ever to have stood up publicly with the Dalai Lama, and told President Hu Jintao I was going to. And he wasn't that pleased about it, but nevertheless, I said I believe in a religious freedom, Mr. President.