Thursday, July 31, 2008

Great Firewall of China

BBC Article
Journalists covering the Beijing Olympic Games will not have completely uncensored access to the internet, Chinese and Olympic officials say.

Sites related to spiritual group Falun Gong would be blocked, officials said. Journalists also found they could not see some news or human rights websites.

China enforces tough internet controls, but said when it bid for the Games that journalists would be free to report.

A senior international Olympic official called the move disappointing.

How naive. Did all those people in the IOC actually believe the Chinese government would keep their promises? This is just a variation on "it's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission." The ultimate goal in 2001 was to win the bid to host the 2008 Olympics. The Chinese government agreed to all those feel-good conditions set by the IOC knowing that once the ball gets rolling, there's nothing the world can do if they renege on their promises. Human rights? Media freedom? Clean air?!
He suggested that part of the problem with other sites could lie with the sites themselves.

"There are some problems with a lot of websites themselves that makes it not easy to view them in China," he said. "Our attitude is to ensure that foreign journalists have regular access to information in China during the Olympic Games."

Awesome! First they block the sites then they blame the sites themselves for being blocked. I guess they didn't explain what "regular access" to the Internet means in China.
But he said reporters would be able to do their jobs.

"During the Olympic Games we will provide reporters with sufficient and convenient internet access so the Olympic Games will not be affected," he said.

I think this says a lot about the arrogance of the Chinese government. Maybe a half-assed Internet connection is good enough for Chinese reporters and censored reporting but how does he know the needs of 20,000 foreign reporters? What if they have a site they need to update? :)

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