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Committee to Protect Journalists cautions of risks to media during the Olympics
Phayul[Friday, June 06, 2008 13:36]
By Tenzin Sangmo

New Delhi, June 6 - The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has warned international media of placing Chinese aides and informants at risk while reporting on sensitive issues during the Games in Beijing.

"Reporters traveling to China should be aware of the risks to people they interview or hire, as well as the dangers they face themselves. Foreign news organizations are instructed to hire local assistants through authorized service organizations only. Sources and assistants remain vulnerable to government pressure. Chinese citizens who speak to the media about sensitive issues or help reporters cover such matters can be subjected to reprisal," it said.

In its eighty page report duly entitled 'Falling Short' the CPJ stated that China in 2001 in its bid for hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics along with Istanbul, Osaka, Paris and Toronto made a powerful argument that Beijing deserved the international showcase as a world economic power with its leaders supposedly eager to create a more open society. As part of the bid process China pledged complete freedom for all accredited journalists. This was furthered by IOC's evaluation commission who in their report issued on April 3, 2001 quoted China's promise that "there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games."

The day before Beijing was named as the host city for the Olympics, Wang Wei, Vice President of the Beijing Organizing Committee said on July 12, 2001, "We will give the media complete freedom when they come to China".

The media however faced the invariable truth the very next day when Chinese censors blocked CBS News from sending footage of the Falun Gong. The oppressive reality and uncanny nature of Chinese authorities create resentment and tensions simmer in the wake to the Olympics.

After Beijing ordered US owned hotels in China to install internet filters that will monitor international visitors to the Games in August, Senator Brownback in his statement said, "This is wrong, it is against international conventions. It is certainly against the Olympic spirit. The Chinese government should not do that, and should remove that request and that order."

There is also a guide to Chinese laws for foreigners coming to China during the Olympics. The 'Legal Guidelines for Foreigners Entering, Exiting and Staying in China during the Olympics' was published in Mandarin on the Beijing Olympic Committee's website this week. The handbook poses 57 guiding principles which prohibits visitors from indulging in public nuisance like getting drunk freely, public display of affection, making political statements, carrying weapons and arms, wearing t-shirts with bold and antagonizing messages and warns of criminal prosecution against those who defaces or insults the national flag or other insignias.

According to CPJ sensitive topics that can be associated with trouble are problems with the Olympics, Tibet issue, protests over social or environmental concerns, HIV/AID patients, North Korean refugees and the mention of the banned Falun Gong spiritual group.
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