Friday, August 01, 2008

China, Censorship and The Olympics

China just doesn't get it. It has clear goals of becoming a major superpower, has introduced market based economic reforms and is now considered to be the fourth largest economy in the world, and yet it still falls pitifully behind in terms of its political and social reforms. Who cares how much money you have in your pocket if you have no freedom, if you continuously fear what you say might land you in jail, if you have little access to information other than what your government deems appropriate. I'd rather be a pauper with freedom, than a rich person with none. The Chinese government would like the world to think they are evolving as a nation, but other than their economy, not a damn thing has changed.

I am still grappling with the question of why China was awarded the honour of hosting the 2008 Olympic Games, given the government's continuing penchant for flagrantly violating the rights of its citizens. Sure, back when they were bidding to host the games, 7 years ago, government officials assured news organizations that they would have complete freedom to report the games, as they have during past Olympic Games. Right. Easy to pay lip service when you have no intention of complying. Did anyone truly believe those promises? I guess not because, we come to find out, the International Olympic Committee (although they deny it) secretly brokered a deal which allows China to, yes, block certain sensitive websites, even for foreign journalists, who are already complaining they've encountered blocked access to various sites. So much for promises. Then again, did people expect anything different from a government that has exercised such suffocatingly tight control over its own people, for decades. And as for all their assurances they'd improve their human rights record, as a condition for hosting the games- empty promises.

If tourists think they will have carte blanche over there, think again. It's been confirmed that they too will be subject to censorship, and who knows what else. International hotel chains have been ordered to install software that will monitor the Internet activity of their guests, and there will be punishment for those who do not comply. So not only do they subject the Chinese people to censorship, they are forcing those same restrictions on visitors to their country. How's that for a warm welcome.

What I find most appalling is that they blatantly lied to ensure they would win the bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games, and that the IOC and the world was stupid enough to believe them.
UPDATE: Due to international pressure, as of 8/1/08, the Chinese government has lifted the ban on some sites, including Reporters Without Borders (RSF), although others continue to be banned, including any sites relating to Tibet or The Falun Gong. Some progress, but not enough!


Pat Jenkins said...

note to self communism = lies. well said incog!!

Nikki said...

Nice piece seems strange in this day and age that this still goes on. This to me says there are a lot of belly-aching Americans who have it pretty darn good. Perhaps a nice long stay in a communist country would make the complainer a happy camper...doubt it. :)N

Z said...

They're not allowing the GERMAN NEWSPAPER into the "Germany House" where Germans entertain bigwigs (every country has a 'house' like this at the O's)......they say it hasn't been censored!

And then the Chinese president yesterday said "Don't politicize the Olympics!" ....... you can't make this stuff UP!!

Layla said...

I will not be watching the summer Olympics for the first time in my life. I am sorry for our athletes, but they worked hard, but they too need to learn the consequences of kissing the butt of a regime that does not care about honesty, human life, and suppresses speech.

Incognito said...

PATJ: But do I believe you mean that.. ;-)

NIKKI: Yes we do, but with all our pcness and fear of offending we are headed towards a similar kind of censorship, if we're not careful.

Z: Really... well, not surprising. and who knows who or for how long. How can it not be politicized?! If they want to play ball with the rest of the democratic world they need to loosen up, big time.

LAYLA: I know, there are a lot of people who are boycotting. I probably won't either. Many believe (including the athletes) that this is sports and should not be politicized, but.. then the stupid IOC should have chosen a more worthy venue.

Actually, I might watch, just in hopes of seeing some brave athlete make some kind of political statement.

Monday through Sunday said...

I totally agree with you. This world is so confusing right now. With Obama and this...has everyone lost their minds?!

WomanHonorThyself said...

I am still grappling with the question of why China was awarded the honour of hosting the 2008 Olympic Games, and me both girlfriend!! said...

You need to see what the May 15th Prophecy has to say what will happen next

Because it has been 100% accurate, do a Google search of the May 15th Prophecy and you will see for yourself

You will be surprised about what it says about John McCain

Incognito said...

MONDAY: I think they have Miss Mel. We are in for some rocky times, though I remain ever hopeful.

WOMAN: And they're still doing slimy things. Very sad.

LEON: Uh.. i checked your blogs out.. and frankly I have never been into the doomsday mentality. Just too wretched to live that way. I like to be positive, when I can.

Troika said...

I agree with much of what you say here incog, but not this:

"The Chinese government would like the world to think they are evolving as a nation, but other than their economy, not a damn thing has changed."

China does still fall pitifully behind in social reforms, but this statement, to anyone who has spent any amount of time in China or knows anything about the country, is so pitifully, woefully and laughably incorrect.

Incognito said...

I tell you what, Troika.. as soon as the Chinese government lifts the ban on internet censorship and stops jailing those who are critical of their policies I will take back that statement.

Troika said...

So you honestly think nothing has changed at all apart from economics?

Your statement is utterly wrong, and is typical of people who have no idea what they are talking about.

kimbatch said...

I don’t support a boycott and I want the Beijing Olympics to be a success.

But the Games are a chance, while the world is watching, to press China for change.

Without change China will carry on executing more of its citizens than any other country in the world, it will continue censoring the media and the Internet and it will continue locking up and torturing those who try to stand up for their rights and the rights of others.

It isn’t political. To stand up for human rights is to stand up for the values enshrined in the Olympic Charter.

Troika said...

You're spot on,Kimbatch.

Not that China are the only nation to lock up and torture people.

And a boycott of the games is just ludicrous. Anyone who supports a boycott is seriously lacking in logical reasoning skills, or has the diplomatic skills of the average American.

There's no point in explaining to them why a boycott is a bad idea, they just don't have the capacity to understand.

Troika said...

And thanks for the link, Kim. I liked this:
"Restricting the internet helps the Chinese Government to hide the true extent of human rights abuses like the death penalty, torture and detention without trial."

Ah... the Chinese restrict the internet to cover it up... the Americans do it in Guantanamo Bay to cover it...

Incognito said...

KIMBATCH: Thanks for the link. Great site.

TROIKA: Okay, m'dear you tell me what positive changes they've made, other than economic, and I might reconsider.