London - IOC President, Jacques Rogge, claimed last weekend that next year's Beijing Olympic Games "will contribute to the evolution of China" and that "the 20,000 journalists who come to the Games will show China as it is. It speaks for itself that that will accelerate the social revolution." Rogge's comments fly in the face of widely reported incidents of intimidation of both domestic and foreign journalists reporting in China.
New regulations introduced supposedly to allow foreign journalists to report freely from China in the run up to the 2008 Games are being ignored widely by local officials. A BBC film crew was recently expelled from Zhushan in Hunan province after attempting to report on riots that had taken place there. Chinese reporters working for foreign newspapers remain imprisoned for reporting on issues deemed sensitive by the Chinese authorities; and foreign journalists wanting to report from Tibet and Xinjiang are still required to apply for special permits, despite a pledge made by Olympics Press Chief, Sun Weijia, at a press briefing in September last year that "they [foreign journalists] can travel anywhere in China. There will be no restrictions."
"Rogge's comments represent a total failure by the IOC to hold China to the pledge it made to allow full media freedoms during the Games." said Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign. "How can Chinese and foreign journalists 'show China as it is' when it is so difficult for them just to obtain permission to travel to places like Tibet? If Rogge is sincere in his opinion that the Games will benefit the evolution of Chinese society, he must demand immediately that China lifts all restrictions on foreign and domestic journalists in their coverage of China in the run up to the Games."
Note: This tract was a press release from the Free Tibet Campaign in London, 4/5/07.