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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
August 11, 2008
Interview of the First Lady by Ann Curry, NBC's Today Show
The Olympic Compound Green
Beijing, People's Republic of China
MRS. BUSH: I think it really means a lot to our Olympians to have their President be here to watch them. I mean, I could really tell, as they would wave at us at every venue that we've been to, and it was very moving for George and me to get to meet our athletes.
But also the President believes -- and I think he's right -- that we can engage in these issues, all of these issues that people talk about China with specifically, like Darfur and others, if we really have an engagement with the government.
Q Some were surprised that just before arriving here, your husband bluntly criticized China's handling of human rights. And on the border of Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, you called on China to do more to stop human rights abuses in Myanmar.
MRS. BUSH: Because we were in Thailand, I had this chance to go see for myself what these refugee camps are, and to make a statement again to everyone, not just to China but to other countries as well, to help put sanctions and put pressure on General Than Shwe and the military regime that have so brutally oppressed the people in Burma for the last -- longer than 20 years.
Q So how important is China, in your view, given that it has financial interests in Myanmar? How important --
MRS. BUSH: Well, I think they can be very helpful, and I think they are willing to be helpful.
Q What gives you hope? I know the President has been meeting with President Hu Jintao in these recent days. Are you seeing any indication that China is opening -- is more open on the question of human rights?
MRS. BUSH: Well, when you look at the very recent history since the United States has, again, had a relationship with China, starting in the '70s, the economy has opened up, there's a rising middle class, and all of those things are encouraging signs. But I also believe that as economies open up, that eventually governments do, too.
Q You are very different from the First Lady you began as. You were much quieter then.
MRS. BUSH: Well, I know more now, actually. I mean -- you know, I know more about each one of these issues than I did eight years ago when we moved from Texas to the White House. And I also realized over -- it took me a long time, I'll have to admit it -- over the eight years that I do have a podium because my husband is President.
Q Do you feel a greater urgency now as the clock is ticking that your time as First Lady is dwindling, is going to shrink? Are you feeling --
MRS. BUSH: Well, that's right. I mean, this is a very interesting time in -- for George and me, and we're thinking about all the many wonderful experiences we've had, and the people we've met across our country that have impressed us so much in the last seven and a half years. And then we're also looking forward to a time where I'll be the cook again. I don't know if George is looking forward to that -- (laughter) -- but, you know, just a regular --
MRS. BUSH: -- normal life again. So -- but on the other hand, we want to, as George says, sprint to the finish and work on all of these issues that have consumed both of us for the last eight years.
Q You mentioned enjoying watching last night the men's basketball -- the U.S. men's basketball team defeat China. And I want to ask you about another sport, specifically a specific player. I don't know if you -- I want to know if you have seen this particular player on the field of the U.S. women's volleyball team -- (laughter) -- and I want to know if you have an assessment of his performance.
MRS. BUSH: Volleyball abilities? (Laughter.) We wish them our very best, and I know George had a great time visiting with them.