Aug 01, 2008

China: Internet Censorship To Remain During Olympics

Sample ImageDespite earlier pledges, China will continue its internet censorship throughout the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing.


Below is an article by Radio Free Europe: 

The bad press for China continues, as Beijing readies itself for the start of the Summer Olympics, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) finding itself embarrassed as well.

On July 30 [2008], the press chief of the IOC was forced to admit that the Olympic Committee had reached an agreement with the Chinese allowing continued Internet censorship.

Kevan Gosper, who is also on the IOC's executive board, said on July 31 [2008] he had not been aware of the deal. He expressed regret about how the whole affair was handled.

"I believe that the [Main Press Center] and the [International Broadcasting Center] is a special territory and I think this is the territory where all media should be able to report as they have reported in previous Games," Gosper said.

"Now, given that the ground rules have changed, by some form of agreement of which I wasn't aware, I think the least that should have been done is that of we should have been informing the international media immediately and the public in general, so no surprises [would have been] delivered at this stage, and that hasn't been the case," he added. "That's disappointing and I don't feel very good about it myself personally."

Just two weeks ago, IOC President Jacques Rogge said there would definitely be no Internet censorship for foreign reporters covering the Games. The tone from Beijing has been unapologetic.

"Similar to practices in other countries, China is acting in accordance with its laws with regard to the control of the Internet," Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, told journalists in Beijing.

"According to Chinese law, the Internet cannot be used to transmit information that is illegal, such as that promoting the evil cult Falun Gong, or threatening national security," he added. "So we hope that the media will respect Chinese laws and regulations."

According to Reuters, among the pages being blocked by the authorities are the Internet sites of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Radio Free Asia, and Voice of America.

Critical U.S. Resolution

Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives this week voted 419-1 for a resolution calling on China to "immediately" end human rights abuses ahead of the Olympic Games.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that in exchange for hosting the Games, Beijing had made commitments on freedom of the press, human rights, and on the environment. But she said that "many of these commitments have been violated repeatedly and blatantly."

On the issue of the environment, there are worries that existing pollution curbs may not be enough to clean the Beijing air in time for the Games.

That's why city officials, also on July 31 [2008], announced a raft of emergency measures being considered if skies fail to clear.

The new emergency measures would include shutting another 200 factories and further restricting vehicles across Beijing, Tianjin city, and surrounding Hebei Province. In the capital, all construction would be halted and most cars banned from the streets.

Olympic organizers in Beijing are also continuing to work on perfecting the manners and dressing habits of local residents: Booklets to 4 million households were distributed this week giving all manners of advice.

Some highlights: There should be no more than three color groups in your clothing and wearing pajamas and slippers to visit neighbors, as some elderly Beijing residents like to do, is also out.

The booklet recommends wearing dark-colored socks and, of course, no spitting in public.