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US Lawmaker: China Seeks to Spy on International Visitors at Olympics


A U.S. senator says Beijing has ordered U.S.-owned hotels in China to install Internet filters that can monitor international visitors who attend the Olympic games in August. Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback made his comments at a Capitol Hill news conference, at which he and other lawmakers urged President Bush to boycott the games opening ceremonies to protest China's human rights record. VOA's Deborah Tate reports.

Senator Brownback says he learned of the Chinese government order from memos received by at least two U.S. hotels. He refused to identify the hotels, but said the information came from reliable and confidential sources.

"This is wrong, it is against international conventions," he said. "It is certainly against the Olympic spirit. The Chinese government should not do that, and should remove that request and that order."

Brownback called China the great enabler in the world of human rights abuses.

He spoke at a news conference just outside the U.S. Capitol building, where he and other lawmakers and human rights advocates called on the United States to boycott the start of the games to protest China's human rights record.

"President Bush and no one else in this government should be there for those opening ceremonies," said Congressman Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican.

Congresswoman Diane Watson, a California Democrat, urged Beijing to improve its human rights record ahead of the games.

"China must change the way it does business at home and abroad," she said.

Representatives from a number of human rights groups cited China's crackdown on recent unrest in Tibet and its deportation of North Korean refugees, who face stiff punishment or execution for fleeing the North.

"The claim made by the Chinese government that North Koreans do not experience persecution if they return to North Korea does not pass any minimal truth test," said Richard Land, vice chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. "North Korean refugees need protection and China must give it to them, and we must insist upon it."

More than a dozen former North Korean refugees who escaped to China and suffered beatings and imprisonment by Chinese authorities also attended the event.

At the White House, spokesman Tony Fratto acknowledged the sentiments of the rights groups and lawmakers, but would not say whether President Bush would avoid the opening ceremonies.

"We know they have strong feelings," he said. "Lots of U.S. officials and others have strong feelings. I do not have anything to add in terms of the president's schedule. He will go to China, but I have nothing on the schedule."

Opening ceremonies are scheduled for August 8.

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