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China to Limit Web Access During Olympic Games
source: New York Times


by Teh Eng Koon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Foreign journalists at the main press center on the Olympic Green in Beijing on Wednesday.
source: New York Times



The White House also urged China to lift its restrictions on the Internet. "We want to see more access for reporters, we want to see more access for everybody in China to be able to have access to the Internet," the White House press secretary, Dana Perino, said Wednesday.

On Capitol Hill, Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, introduced a resolution on Tuesday urging China to reconsider what he said were its plans to force international hotel chains to track electronic communications by its guests. At a news conference, he introduced redacted documents that he said were provided by the hotels requiring them to install government software to monitor Internet traffic during the Olympics.

Concerns about media access to the Internet intensified Tuesday, when Western journalists working at the Main Press Center in Beijing said they could not get to Amnesty International’s Web site to see the group's report on China's rights record.

T. Kumar, Amnesty International's Asia advocacy director, said he thought the government hoped it could dissuade reporters from pursuing stories about human rights issues by blocking their access to Internet-based information. "This sends the wrong message not only to journalists but to anyone on his or her way to the Olympics," he said.

It was not clear how hard Olympic committee officials pushed for open access to the Internet during negotiations with the Chinese, which dated from to the decision to award Beijing the Games in 2001, or why Mr. Rogge, the Olympic chief, promised that the news media would have uncensored access during the Games when officials working for him were aware that China would keep at least some of its censorship policies in place.

Kevan Gosper, press chief of the International Olympic Committee, was quoted by Reuters on Wednesday as saying that I.O.C. officials had agreed that China could block sites that would not hinder reporting on the Games themselves. "I also now understand that some I.O.C. official negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games-related," he told Reuters.

The senior Olympic committee official said the committee pressed hardest for unfiltered access to sites that sports reporters would need to cover athletic competitions. He said such sites included some that had been blocked in China in the past, including Wikipedia, but did not include political sites run by groups that the Beijing government considers hostile, like the spiritual sect Falun Gong.

Jonathan Watts, president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, said he was disappointed that Beijing had failed to honor its agreement to temporarily remove the firewall that prevented Chinese citizens from fully using the Internet.

"Obviously if reporters can't access all the sites they want to see, they can't do their jobs," he said. "Unfortunately such restrictions are normal for reporters in China, but the Olympics were supposed to be different."


   







PTN Dailes HERE