WASHINGTON -- It would be a "cop-out" for countries to skip the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics as a way of protesting China's crackdown in Tibet, President Bush's national security adviser said Sunday.
The kind of "quiet diplomacy" that the U.S. is practicing is a better way to send a message to China's leaders, Stephen Hadley said.
President Bush has given no indication he will skip the event.
"I don't view the Olympics as a political event," Bush said this past week. "I view it as a sporting event."
The White House has not yet said whether he will attend the opening ceremony on Aug. 8.
"This issue [of the boycott] is in some sense a bit of a red herring," Hadley said in a broadcast interview. "I think unfortunately a lot of countries say, 'Well, if we say that we are not going to the opening ceremonies we check the box on Tibet.' That's a cop-out.
"If other countries are concerned about that, they ought to do what we are doing through quiet diplomacy, send a message clearly to the Chinese that this is an opportunity with the whole world watching, to show that they take into account and are determined to treat their citizens with dignity and respect. They would put pressure on the Chinese authorities quietly to meet with representatives of the Dalai Lama and use this as an opportunity help resolve that situation," Hadley said.
Critics of China say that were Bush to avoid the opening ceremony, it would send a powerful signal of international anger over China's violent response to demonstrating Buddhist monks in Tibet.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not attend the opening ceremonies.