With just one month to go before the Olympics, China is reaffirming its
promises of complete media freedom and unfettered Internet access
during the games. These assurances come even as foreign journalists
working in Beijing report continued harassment and interference by
Chinese authorities. Stephanie Ho has more on the story.
has unveiled its new media centers, which are the largest ever built
for any Olympics. The Main Press Center and International Broadcast
Center have been set up to serve more than 21,000 foreign and domestic
reporters who will be covering the Olympics.
Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Olympics organizing committee, told reporters China takes media service seriously.
He says China has honored its commitment to "adopt all kinds of measures to provide every convenience for journalists."
the opening ceremony, the International Olympic Committee's Hein
Verbruggen praised BOCOG, the Beijing organizing committee, and said
many journalists coming to cover the Olympics never even have to leave
"We wish to thank BOCOG, because they have made
great efforts to provide excellent services for the press, such as
providing all that is virtually needed for the media to make this their
home for several weeks, from hair dressers, gyms, restaurants, to even
a massage center," Verbruggen said.
Chinese officials have
repeatedly said "journalists are our friends," and reiterated pledges
that, during the Olympics, reporters are allowed to talk to whomever
they want to, as long as the interviewee gives his or her permission.
Johannes Hano, from German broadcaster ZDF, says his experience last
week was very different from what Chinese officials have described.
were stopped by security guards last week, on the Great Wall, and we
had all the permissions we needed. They stopped us," he said. "We had
a rehearsal before and nobody interfered. But when we started the live
(shot), when we were on air, then they stopped us, running to the
camera, putting their hands on the camera."
Hano said he does
not care as much about the working facilities, as he does about having
the ability to report freely. He said he is worried that, despite
Chinese promises, media freedom will be seriously curtailed.
concerns were echoed by the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, which
has recorded 259 cases of reporting interference since January 1,
2007. That is the date the new, more open, rules for Olympic reporting
went into effect.