By David S. Broder
WASHINGTON, August 3 - Sen. John McCain urged President Bush on Saturday to avoid saying anything "confrontational" to his Chinese hosts when he visits Beijing this week for the opening of the Olympics, lest he damage prospects for cooperation between the United States and China.
In an interview with the Washington Post at his headquarters in Arlington, Va., the prospective Republican presidential nominee advocated a cautious course for Bush, despite U.S. unhappiness with the Chinese crackdown on Tibet, complaints of harsh repression of domestic dissidents and strained relations stemming from last week's breakdown of global trade talks in Geneva.
McCain, who harshly condemned Russian behavior in the same interview, said some of China's actions are "also regrettable, but I don't think China is regressing the way that Russia is. We have a greater opportunity to work in a cooperative way with China."
Saying he does not contemplate "a return to the Cold War" or a military confrontation with either country, McCain said he hopes Bush will tell the China leadership that "we understand, as the Dalai Lama does, that Tibet is part of China but we hope Tibetans are not repressed or oppressed." McCain met recently with the Dalai Lama.
Bush has been under pressure from some Republicans and many Democrats to make public statements while in China aligning the United States with the cause of human rights in both China and Tibet. He met with five Chinese dissidents in the White House last week, a step that Chinese authorities condemned, but he has resisted urgings that he boycott the opening ceremonies to show displeasure with the actions of the government.