It’s Official: China Will Censor Internet for Olympic Journalists
Well, I guess we knew that was coming. Contrary to past promises from Beijing that journalists would have unimpeded access to the Internet during the imminent Olympic Games, the host country admitted Wednesday that certain Web sites — most critical of the host country — will be off limits. From The New York Times:
Since the Olympic Village press center opened on Friday, reporters have been unable to access scores of Web pages — among them those that discuss Tibetan succession, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown of the protests in Tiananmen Square and the sites of Amnesty International, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse.
Beijing’s explanation is hardly reassuring (also from The Times):
“It has been our policy to provide the media with convenient and sufficient access to the Internet,” said Sun Weide, the chief spokesman for the Beijing Olympics organizing committee. “I believe our policy will not affect reporters’ coverage of the Olympic Games.”
Not that there wasn’t fair warning. Human-rights groups and a number of lawmakers have skewered China for its dismal human-rights record even before the Asian giant was awarded the privilege of hosting the games years ago. That concern was reiterated this morning on the House floor, where the chamber on Wednesday passed a resolution calling on President George W. Bush to make a statement condemning China’s human-rights abuses before he attends the opening ceremonies on Aug. 8. The vote was 419 to 1. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, provided the rationale in a floor speech this morning:
Because of China’s failure to improve its record on supporting human rights at home and abroad, now is the time to call on China to take immediate, substantial and serious action if there is to be any hope that the Olympic Games will take place in an atmosphere that honors the Olympic spirit of freedom and openness.
Berman might not want to hold his breath on this one. Bush has said repeatedly that’s he’s attending the games as a sports fan, not an ambassador. How’s that for selective schizophrenia?