China to censor journalists' Net access during Olympics

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No bricks removed from great firewall

CHINA'S IRON GRIP on the Internet won't be relaxed for journalists covering the Summer Olympics, as it has reneged on its earlier promises to the International Olympics Committee (IOC).

Sun Weide, spokestyrant for the Beijing Olympics organising committee, has announced that reporters will not have unrestricted Internet access during the Games, since many web sites regarded as "sensitive" by China's ruling hierarchy will remain censored even to the press.

He said: "During the Olympic Games we will provide sufficient access to the Internet for reporters." However, what China's government regards as "sufficient" doesn't match the total forebearance of web censorship that China had promised the IOC in making its bid.

Sun specifically mentioned that web sites related to the banned Chinese Christian spiritual movement Falungong would be off-limits to journalists.

But foreign reporters at the main Olympics press centre have also discovered that a broad swathe of other web sites are also blocked, including those belonging to the Tibetan government in exile, ex-patriot political dissidents, Amnesty International, and any showing content about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of young people who were protesting China's government corruption and lack of democracy.

If China can censor what information reaches journalists covering the Olympics, it will also be capable of restricting press reporting transmitted out into the world during the Games.

The IOC has long maintained that journalists' Internet access would not be censored during the Olympics, but now it appears that IOC officials are going to have to either confront the Chinese government to make it keep its promises or kowtow to the 2008 Summer Olympics host country's authoritarian ways that have apparently led it to a treacherous fait accompli.

Link: AFP

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