China Renews Censorship Post-Olympics

No one could have predicted

China said it has the right to block Web sites its says break its laws after being accused of restarting the practice it halted during the August Olympic Games as part of a promise to widen media freedom.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Tuesday that certain Web sites had breached Chinese law by recognizing “two Chinas” — a reference to the self-ruled island Taiwan.

Liu, however, wouldn’t say whether any Web sites had been censored.

“Undeniably, on some Web sites, there are some issues that go against Chinese law. For example, some Web sites are actually creating two countries — that is one China, one Taiwan. They treat Taiwan as an independent country, which is against our law of anti-secessionism,” he said during a regularly scheduled press conference, without naming the organizations.

Censorship actually existed in China at a much higher level than Beijing and the I.O.C. had promised foreign journalists. There was a consistent and loud outcry against the blockage of controversial sites during the Olympics that was basically met by China saying “Shut the f*** up.” That they would step even farther away from the Olympics-timed levels of access should not be shocking to anyone.

Bob Dietz of the Committee to Protect Journalists has a good quote in the AP piece:

“It’s clear that China has no intention of fulfilling the hopes it raised when it was awarded the 2008 Olympic Games that the Chinese media universe would enter a period of expansion,” said Bob Dietz, the group’s Asia program coordinator, in a statement.

“Instead, all we have seen is a continuation of the same narrow policies of official resistance and restriction of foreign and local media,” he said.

The net result is that Beijing’s ruling party leaders exploited the symbol of the Olympics to bring in billions of dollars to their economy, put forward an image of a respectable (if not respected) partner in the global community, and then immediately flicked a switch and returned to how they were. Let’s be clear — China’s brutal behavior before and during the Olympics in Tibet, East Turkestan, towards dissidents and those displaced by Olympics construction was reprehensible. One of the only areas which even approached actual improvement – though as I pointed out above, did not reach their promised goals – was internet access for special groups of foreign journalists. Yet it’s clear that there has been no prolonged or sustained media and information freedom inside China. Just as we predicted.

Via Chris in Paris.

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