Thursday, July 31, 2008

Olympics: What is the big fuss about selective Internet censorship for the foreign media?

By China Watcher

The foreign media (mainly western controlled ones) and anti-China human rights groups continue to makes irritating noises when China announced that there will be selective Internet censorship for the anticipated 20,000 reporters and journalists who will cover the coming Summer Olympics in Beijing.

The Western media claimed that China has backtracked on Internet freedoms on its earlier promises of unfiltered Internet access for the Games. They continued to assail the Chinese authorities and once again, lump this controversy with the other now saturated and over-reported issues like pollution, human rights and terrorism threats related to China. Every time there is a slight perceive controversy over matters pertaining to the organization of the Games, all the past negative issues would be repeated over and over again, to highlight it continuously and relentlessly until the hidden objective is achieved.

On a relative scale, small incident like Beijing authorities using huge advertisement boards to “hide” the pollution problem in the city is prominently reported by the Western media just last week. Foreign reporters in Tibet even took the trouble to publish that there is less tourists in Tibet after the riots. Why only Tibet and not the other 32 provinces? Are the Western people so caring about the Tibetans? Do you think the Chinese government really needs to depend on Western tourists? There are many Asian tourists who would love to travel to Tibet for a holiday. I would have no qualms to make such a visit.

It appears as though these anti-China groupings (including the media) do have a coordinated plan to criticize whatever matters (whether big or small) whenever they feel that the run up to the Olympic organizing developments are not up to its own benchmarks. They are obviously taking advantage of the full international spotlight on the Olympics, even before the Games commences. I do hope the Chinese authorities have the most effective public relations strategies to deal or counter these constant barrages of negative portrayal of China by the anti-China groups when they agreed to stage the Games.

Beijing Olympic organizing committee media official, Sun Weide, recently confirmed to foreign reporters that there would not have access to some sites deemed sensitive by the Chinese government (as usual the press just love to hit the Communist rulers which I think is unfair because it is merely a difference in ideology but you know how Western media can be so hypocritical).

Did China actually reverse its pledge of unfettered web access? And was there any agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), on the censoring of certain sensitive sites for reasons detrimental to national security? What are these Internet sites? Falun Gung sites, as we all know, are banned in China and as such, the non availability of these illegal sites is of no surprise. Similarly, banning sites that are deemed to upset the security and stability of the country like Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and the Tibet Exiled Government are the prerogative rights of the Chinese host, which I am sure was negotiated with the IOC after China has successfully secured the hosting rights. IOC has agreed to the limiting of websites that are deemed pornographic and sensitive sites that are known for damaging the security interests of the host nation. This is within the confines of the Olympic Charter and China has every right to demand this.

I do not understand why the foreign media would ask for complete and unrestricted access to the Internet to perform their job functions in China. The reporters are assigned there to cover the sporting events at the Olympics for their customers (own set of readers) and having no access to the few mentioned banned sites from China would not have any bearing on the quality of their reporting. So, what is the big fuss?

Foreign media is free to publish their work and freely transmitted their content to their own country or elsewhere and why are they so concern about not being able to circulate the news in China. China has a diverse range of local newspapers (national and provincial) to serve the Chinese public. Why must the Western media need to publish reports for the locals? Unless, of course, there is a hidden agenda to spread Western democratic values to the local Chinese in order to bring about a change of political reforms in China. Do you think the present government which has the support of the majority of the Chinese people (who benefited from China’s economic growth) would allow this? Let us be realistic.

Compared to the past, China had already allow more freedom to the press, to enhance basic human rights and the freedom to preach religions sanctioned by the Central government but the West is clearly not satisfied. China will extend more rights for the 3 areas in the future but it will do so at its own pace without sacrificing the stability of the country. And the change will come from the Chinese people and not from some anti-China working groups including the Western media.

Within a month from now, the 29th Olympic Games would have come to a close and the West would not have this added pleasure to attack the Chinese on every occasion. China will need to be patient. I’m sure the Games will be stage successfully.

Today, I am confident that at least 1.4 billion of the Chinese population (excluding the dissidents and Western sympathizers but including the overseas Chinese supporters) or 1/5 of the world’s population would be delighted that China can stand up to the might of the Western media and resist their untoward demands. Even if the Chinese authorities have relented, it will be a compromise stand.

No comments: