"China has actually used the Games as an excuse to intensify its paranoid control." -- IRD Director of Religious Liberty Programs Faith J.H. McDonnell
Contact: Loralei Coyle, 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton, email@example.com; both with The Institute on Religion and Democracy
WASHINGTON, July 31 /Christian Newswire/ -- China is backtracking on its assurances of open access to foreign journalists during the Olympic Games. Hotel documents cited by U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) reveal that all the major hotel chains serving the 2008 Summer Olympics have been ordered to install monitoring software by China's Public Security Bureau, and that Olympic reporters' access to certain websites is being restricted.
One document said, "In order to ensure the smooth opening of Olympic in Beijing and the Expo in Shanghai in 2010, safeguard the security of Internet network and the information thereon in the hotels... it is required that your company install and run the Security Management System."
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Public Security Bureau's order to the hotels says that failure to comply could result in financial penalties, suspension of access to the Internet or the loss of a license to operate a hotel in China.
The government routinely blocks Internet access for the Chinese public, but in bidding for the Games seven years ago, China said the news media would have "complete freedom to report." Senior International Olympic Committee members overseeing the Games said they'd received assurances from Chinese officials that Internet censorship would be lifted for journalists during the Games.
IRD Director of Religious Liberty Programs Faith J.H. McDonnell commented,
"Apparently not satisfied with the suppression of their own citizens, the Chinese government is now going out of its way to spy on and control the foreign press.
"Prior to being awarded the 2008 Olympic Games, China made numerous promises about free journalistic access, sensitivity to human rights, and an increasingly open country. Not only have these promises been broken, China has actually used the Games as an excuse to intensify its paranoid control.
"Under the guise of Olympic security, the Chinese government has cracked down on journalists, house churches and persecuted minorities. These are all peaceful groups that pose no serious threat to the safety of the Olympic Games."