President Bush’s “mini-clash” with China over human rights seemed staged, said The Washington Post in an editorial. Before arriving in China for the Friday opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, Bush criticized China for jailing dissidents, and China responded by telling the world to butt out of its internal affairs. If that’s the best we can do, the cause of human freedom may be the big loser in these Games.

China’s “prickly” riposte certainly “rings false,” said The Boston Globe in an editorial. Beijing is clearly using the Olympics for “political purposes—and not only to celebrate its emergence as a world power. For China’s rulers, the event is also a test of how much they can make international organizations and other governments play by Beijing’s rules.”

The big question now, said Jay Nordlinger in National Review Online, is what Bush will do while he’s on Chinese soil. Will he meet with dissidents, and encourage persecuted churches? If he does, he can still “wring” some good from these Games that the world somehow allowed—with “little protest”—to take place in a “police state.”

China might win a round at these Games, said USA Today in an editorial, by proving that dictatorships can be effective at accomplishing “Big Things.” But some day its citizens might stop buying into "the deep streak of nationalism the leadership uses to justify its tight control." Then China's "cavalier disregard" for their rights could prove its Achilles heel.