Louise Evans of the Australian reported today:
Failure to allow up to 22,000 accredited media representatives freedom of movement and uncensored web access at the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be catastrophic for China.
“Li had made headlines by committing not to censor something he states isn't censored.”
October 05, 2006 - Success of Games hinges on an unfettered internet
"HELLO, my name is Weiwei, but some of you may have trouble pronouncing that so you can call me Wendy." So began the first world press briefing for the 2008 Beijing Olympics with the Chinese treating dumb foreigners like dumb foreigners.
The big news from the briefing, which was attended by more than 300 foreign journalists who would normally not be allowed into China, let alone feted, was that during the Games access to the internet would be uncensored.
The declaration was made by Li Jingbo, the media services chief of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Games, and it was splashed across the front page of the official English-language newspaper China Daily. "Overseas media will be able to freely travel around China and enjoy uncensored access to the internet during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, organisers promised yesterday," the paper touted.
Visiting delegates were impressed. The International Olympic Committee's press commission chairman Kevan Gosper was heartened. "My experience in working with them for five years is that when they say they will do something they will do it," he said. "We got a straight assurance there would be no restraint on the internet at the time of the Games and I believe that will be the case."
But Beijing-based diplomats who deal with China's authorities daily were not convinced. "It won't happen, it's a lie," one diplomat said.
Foreign business heavyweights were equally circumspect. "Good luck," one old China hand laughed. (…)
The first seizure of material from a foreign media representative, the first arrest for wandering off a sanctioned track, will be splashed across the world. Repeated arrests, seizures, bans and harassment would overshadow events inside the giant main stadium, dubbed the bird's nest for its imposing steel lacework, and the innovative Watercube aquatic centre.
The international shame and loss of face would be enormous. (more)