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Journalists, fans, and support staff betrayed by false "open internet" pledge

A secret order to foreign-owned Chinese hotels compels them to spy on guests during the Olympic Games, according to a memo revealed Tuesday by U.S. Senator Sam Brownback.

Brownback, a republican representing Kansas, said he received a document issued by the Chinese Public Security bureau, which orders hotels to install spying equipment on their internet connections and threatens owners with “severe retaliation” – including the possibility of losing their operating licenses – should they fail to comply.

“These hotels are justifiably outraged by this order,” said Brownback at a news conference Tuesday, noting that it forces them into the “awkward position” of having to “craft pop-up messages” informing guests of their loss of privacy.

Brownback said he received a copy of the original document, translated from Chinese, from attorneys representing two different “foreign-owned” hotel chains. The companies want to remain anonymous so that they don’t face further reprisal. Several other international hotel chains confirmed the order.

An AP report said the Chinese embassy was unavailable for comment.

According to the memo, hotels were told that “all hotel rooms and offices” are considered subject to “on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times.”

With little more than a week remaining before the 2008 Summer Olympics begin in Beijing, Chinese hotel owners appear to have little choice. Despite their outrage, hotel companies are more concerned about the long-term repercussions of non-compliance – failure to obey could place an entire company’s operations in jeopardy, potentially locking them out of a lucrative, growing Chinese market.

Meanwhile, athletes and participants staying at the Olympic Village have a unique set of woes for their internet access: an IT contractor recently leaked a list of rates for DSL service charged by BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2008 Olympic Games), with the cheapest option being a 512/512 kilobit line available for 11,700 RMB ($1716.05 USD). 

“I just can't believe that not only do I have to deal with the Great Firewall of China, but also pay through the nose to use it!” wrote the anonymous contractor.

According to Australian newspaper The Age, the International Olympic Committee issued a formal apology Wednesday for “misleading” the world’s press about the China’s “open internet” pledge. Senior IOC member Kevan Gosper, who originally delivered the promise of “unfettered freedom to report in China,” said he was unaware of the apparently backroom negotiations with Chinese censors, which will keep a number of “sensitive sites” blocked from access.

Age reporters said they were unable to access a number of sites involving human rights discussions, Tibet, and the Falun Gong, with merely intermittent access to a larger portfolio of websites including the New York Times, BBC China, al-Jazeera, Radio Free Asia, and Taiwanese newspapers.

 BOCOG spokesman Sun Weide said that China promised journalists that they would “be able to use the internet for their work during the Olympic Games. So we have given them sufficient access to do that.”



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You guys should see China with your eyes.
By Woodcan on 7/31/2008 12:08:04 PM , Rating: 1
Most of you knew China only from your media. You believe them because they have good reputation on the civil reports. But they are not really report China without bias. They actually controlled by different interest groups and Governments. You really should saw China with your own eyes. That's why China should host one Olympics Game.

Many media and politicians attack China just because they want to attack China. They made stories to achieve they Goals.

China Government has lots of problem. But you also should see many improvements during last 20 years. Many of you think Chinese is living in great misery. That's not true. Compare to India and other developing democracy examples. The average life quality of Chinese is higher. It's a good chance for Western people to see those improvements and also see the problems personally.




RE: You guys should see China with your eyes.
By bobsmith1492 on 7/31/2008 12:18:49 PM , Rating: 2
Pollution? That's all I hear about from the couple of people I know who have been recently.


RE: You guys should see China with your eyes.
By Captmorgan09 on 7/31/2008 4:08:45 PM , Rating: 2
I've been to China at least once a year for pretty much the last 5. Mainly in the Shenzhen and Shanghai areas. The pollution is, how to say this nicely, smothering. I've also been into the countryside and it's not much better there, but at least you can see some blue sky.

One of my favorite things to do in China is read the local English based Chinese newspapers and compare their point of view to the Western news. It's amazing how different it is. The Chinese news will either completely ignore a story which is big news in the west, or they will lightly gloss over it with their own spin. But then you also have differences between say the BBC news and CNN. different cultures have different points of views.

And yes, tons of websites that I normally read are blocked in China. Hell, even Flickr is blocked for some ungodly reason. There are ways around it though, I use my work VPN and log into a country outside of China and I'm good to go.


By Rodney McNaggerton on 7/31/2008 4:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
Flickr is blocked because it encourages self expression =D.


"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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