Radio Free China

Human Rights and Religious Freedom News

Olympic organizers agree that China is blocking ‘sensitive’ Internet sites

Posted by radiofreechina on July 31, 2008

Foreign reporters will not have full access to the Internet during the Games

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
BEIJING, CHINA (ANS) — A deal with Beijing has allowed the Chinese authorities to block sensitive Internet sites, the International Olympic Committee has disclosed.

According to Jane Macartney, writing for The Times Online, journalists at the main media center in Beijing found that the BBC Chinese language site was inaccessible, as were the websites of human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders — whose welcome page at present shows the five Olympic rings replaced with interlocking handcuffs. The US broadcaster Radio Free Asia and the German radio station Deutsche Welle are also out of bounds.

The Times Online says that Kevan Gosper, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) press commission, confirmed that some of its officials had agreed to Chinese demands that some sensitive sites be blocked on the ground that they were not related to the Olympics.

“I regret that it now appears Bocog [the Beijing Organising Committee] has announced there will be limitations on website access during Games time.” While the censors have allowed access to the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, attempts to read entries about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre were unsuccessful. Computers at the main press center displayed the message: “Impossible to display the page.”

The Times Online reported that Giselle Davies, of the IOC, said that officials had been told repeatedly by Beijing organisers that some sites would be unavailable to the 20,000 reporters covering the games. “We’re working with them to ensure the media face the minimum possible restrictions.”

According to The Times Online, Chinese organizers said that the censorship would not hamper journalists in their job of reporting on the Games. Sun Weide, a Bocog official, said that the plan had always been to provide “sufficient” internet access for foreign reporters. Sites run by the Falun Gong religious sect remain inaccessible, as do most sites with the word Tibet in their internet address.

The Times Online says: “The revelation that China’s censors had never considered relaxing internet curbs further tarnishes the image of the Games amid persistent fears of pollution and security so tight that cafés are not allowed to place tables on pavements and hotels cannot change their brand of shower gel without checks.”

The Times Online story explains: “China is clearly determined not to allow any disruption to the August 8-24 Games, and has announced a sweeping security operation in Lhasa to prevent anti-Chinese unrest. Security in the Tibetan capital has been tight, with paramilitary People’s Armed Police patrolling the streets, since a deadly riot on March 14 when Tibetans rampaged through the town setting fire to shops and attacking ethnic Han Chinese.”

President Bush Meets with China Aid’s Bob Fu in the White House

Meanwhile, five leaders advocating for human rights and religious freedom in China met with President Bush at the White House earlier this week.

Among them was Bob Fu, President of China Aid Association (CAA), who delivered “Prayer for China” wristbands to the President and encouraged him to wear them as a symbol of solidarity with the Chinese people.

China Aid says that in addition to explaining the deteriorating situation for religious freedom in China as the Olympics approach, Fu also raised the case of House Church leader Zhang Rongliang, who is serving his 7 ½ year prison sentence and Fu asked President Bush to intercede in his behalf.

CAA said that President Bush explained his desire to talk to the Chinese officials about human rights violations, and also speak with the Chinese people about the importance of religious freedom. The President promised to discuss with President Hu Jintao that the Christians in his country are peace- loving and caring people, and that he should not be afraid of them.

CAA said: “President Bush’s willingness to meet with Bob Fu and other activists despite the sensitivity and complexity of Sino-American relations is a clear showing of his commitment for basic human rights within China.

“China Aid Association is deeply thankful to President Bush for his courageous stand in the advancement of Religious freedom in China and around the world.”

China Aid Association Inaugurates FAX Advocacy Campaign

In a new campaign aimed to bring awareness of religious persecution to the business and industry sector, China Aid has also begun a fax advocacy campaign focused on holding businesses accountable for their actions in regards to corporate social responsibility.

China Aid said the initial campaign will focus on Beijing bookstore owner and house church leader, Shi Weihan.

In January of 2008, Beijing resident Shi Weihan was arrested under suspicion of printing illegal Christian material. He has been illegally held in a detention center in Beijing for more than three months without receiving formal charges or trial. Shi’s family members were prohibited from visiting him while in detention. The family was also restricted from delivering diabetes medication to Shi who has suffered seriously from the disease for some time.

In a media release, CAA explained that 1,161 foreign invested companies within Beijing will be faxed first hand accurate information concerning Shi Weihan and his case. The companies’ leaders are urged to take action as part of their corporate social responsibility contract.

These businesses include 578 American companies, 442 Japanese companies, 90 German companies, 35 French and 16 Russian owned companies.

The release stated: “It is CAA’s hope that the corporate and business centers within Beijing will respond to local authorities inquiring about the situation, encouraging them to treat Shi in a more humane manor and even call for his unconditional release.”

It adds: “As persecution continues to increase with the approach of the Beijing Olympics, it is time for the corporate and business world to stand against human rights violations and take responsibility for their community. China Aid Association will be quick and accurate to report both the action and inaction of the companies who receive word of persecutions within their areas of influence.”

China Expert Calls for Boycott of Beijing Olympics

On another front, Steven W. Mosher, well-known China expert, has called for a boycott of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing saying that the games “will only serve to legitimize a one-party dictatorship that has a deplorable human rights record.”

“The Olympics is intended to be a celebration of the human spirit,” says Mosher.

“But the spirit of the Chinese people, not to mention the spirit of the Tibetans and other minorities, is being crushed under the weight of an oppressive regime. We should no more celebrate the Olympics in China in 2008, than we should have celebrated the Olympics in Nazi- controlled Berlin in 1936.”

In a media release, Mosher reminds the world that China’s rights record has not improved in recent years, rather, it has actually gotten worse.

“China is one of the worst violators of human rights in the world,” he explains. “Given the Chinese Communist Party bragging rights over the games makes a mockery of their meaning.”

Mosher has formed the “Beijing Boycott Coalition” to oppose the Beijing Olympics. The coalition invites activists and groups of different backgrounds to join in protesting ongoing human rights violations in China by refusing to watch the games or patronize its sponsors.

The release says that all individuals and groups concerned about human rights, whether their issue is the suppression of journalism, the persecution of religious groups, or forced abortion, are welcome to join the coalition. The Beijing Boycott Coalition reaches across ideological boundaries to include all those who care deeply about human rights and the Chinese people, and want to send a message to the Beijing regime.

For more information about the coalition, or to sign up for its e-mails, visit .


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