China Lifts Restrictions On Internet Access

The assumption held by members of the media is there would be no restrictions on the part of the Chinese government for their reporting Olympic events. However, an uproar arose several days ago when members of the media discovered several web sites were being blocked by authorities. After an outpouring of criticism by foreign journalists, Chines authorities have agreed to lift restrictions on Internet access for the media during the Games. Many people had hoped the Olympic Games would provide, not just foreign members of the media, but the average Chinese citizen free access to all components and sites of the Internet. However, for ordinary Chinese the Internet remains blocked unless the government says an individual can access a web site. Western corporations like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft have cooperated with the Chinese government in denying access to sites such as those reporting on Tibet or human rights abuses.

Chinese President Hu Jintao urged western reporters to “abide by Chinese laws” which is another way of saying toe the government line on what should be seen and what should be reported. Early in July, Johannes Hano, A German TV commentator, was interviewing an American expert on China’s Great Wall when police intervened. Hano was told by officials: “Thee is no such thing as American experts on walls, because there is no Great Wall in America.” There definitely is no Chinese government expert on freedom of the press.

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