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8th of the 8th, 2008

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James Reynolds | 22:19 UK time, Thursday, 7 August 2008

I write these words a few minutes after midnight in Beijing. It's now the 8th of the 8th, 2008 - the Olympics begin today. I've just been for a late night wander about Tiananmen Square. Late at night there were hundreds of people milling happily around the Olympic countdown clock - which now has just hours to go before it hits zero. When they saw our TV cameras, some shouted out "Go Olympics, Go China!"

President Bush and his wife arriving in ChinaI'm not sure if President Bush got to see any of this from his motorcade as he arrived in Beijing this evening. The most powerful man in the world has now arrived for the most important event ever held by the world's most populous country. George Bush is the first US president to attend an Olympics on foreign soil. He insists he's here to watch a bit of sport and cheer on the US team - not to talk about politics or to offend his hosts.

So, he got his offending - or plain speaking - out of the way just before he got to Beijing.

Earlier in the day, in Thailand, the US president spoke about China - he said he had deep concerns over religious freedom and human rights.

China won't like what he had to say. The government wants everyone to come and applaud - not criticise. Tonight Chinese officials say that they oppose any interference in this country's internal affairs. That's a message directed straight to its most important overnight house guest - the president of the United States.


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