BEIJING (Reuters) - Communist-ruled China has blasted U.S. President George Bush for attending the founding of a memorial to victims of communism, accusing Washington of “cold war” thinking and provoking ideological confrontation.
Bush attended the dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington on Tuesday, naming China among the regimes he blamed for the deaths of about 100 million innocent people.
“According to the best scholarly estimate, communism took the lives of tens of millions of people in China and the Soviet Union,” Bush said in his speech issued on the White House Web site (www.whitehouse.gov).
He cited the Great Leap Foward of the late 1950s, when many millions died in famine sparked by Mao Zedong’s drive for massive communes, and the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76 when Mao launched a radical, often violent campaign to stamp out ideological threats.
China, which remains under communist rule even as it embraces booming capitalist investment, shot back late on Wednesday with a statement that did not name Bush but made its anger clear.
“Some political forces in the United States, driven by a Cold War mentality and by political imperatives, are provoking confrontation between ideologies and social systems,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement issued on the ministry Web site (www.fmprc.gov.cn).
“We express our strong displeasure and resolute opposition to the statements and actions of the U.S. side,” Qin said. “Stop interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs.”
China and the United States have expanded cooperation under Bush, with Washington turning to Beijing for help in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and other security threats.
But China, where the Communist Party swept to power in 1949, also believes Washington has long nursed plans to undermine one-party rule and press the country towards Western-style democracy.
Last week, China condemned an announced meeting between Bush and an exiled activist demanding autonomy for Xinjiang, the tense and heavily Muslim region in the nation’s far west.
Bush has also hosted Chinese Christians critical of the party’s religious controls.