SBD/Issue 57/Olympics

China Relaxes Media Restrictions Ahead Of ’08 Beijing Games

China has relaxed restrictions on foreign media leading up to and during the ‘08 Beijing Games “in a sign the games may at least temporarily soften Beijing’s treatment of its critics and the media,” according to Richard McGregor of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Foreign journalists will “no longer require the permission of local authorities to travel to areas outside their base.” But those media members, “who are mostly based in Beijing and Shanghai, cannot do interviews outside of these cities under the existing rules without first getting approval from the government.” The rules, which run from January 1 through the Paralympics in October, apply to journalists “stationed in China and the thousands who are expected to visit before and during the games.” They do not apply to travel in Xinjiang and Tibet, China’s “most politically sensitive regions” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 12/2). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Mei Fong notes foreign media will have “freedom to write ‘not only to the Games itself,’ but also about political, economic and social issues.” The move “reflects pressure by” the IOC and human-rights groups (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/4).

SMOKE & MIRRORS? Meanwhile, a WALL STREET JOURNAL editorial notes the announcement came on the same day the Beijing High Court “upheld a trumped-up fraud conviction against” N.Y. Times researcher Zhao Yan. The editorial: “Even while Beijing is trying to make itself look more open to foreign reporting as a concession to the [IOC], the government is menacing the Chinese journalists who make much of that reporting possible” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/4).

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IOC, Olympics

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