Press freedom shall not go above laws
www.chinaview.cn 2008-08-02 15:32:45   Print

Special report: 2008 Olympic Games     

    by Liu Gang, Meng Na and Huo Xiaoguang

    BEIJING, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- In recent days, some foreign journalists kept questioning organizers of the Beijing Olympics why a few websites, such as those preaching Falungong, cannot be opened here.

    In their view, the fact that certain websites cannot be accessed means that the Chinese government has broken its promise of allowing foreign journalists free use of the Internet during the Beijing Games and thus has violated "press freedom."

Sun Weide, a media official with the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 29th Olympic Games (BOCOG), invites reporters to raise questions during a press conference at the Main Press Center in Beijing, China, Aug. 1, 2008.

Sun Weide, a media official with the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 29th Olympic Games (BOCOG), invites reporters to raise questions during a press conference at the Main Press Center in Beijing, China, Aug. 1, 2008.   (Xinhua/Zou Zheng)
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    At various press conferences, Sun Weide, the Games' spokesman, patiently explained the government stance and repeatedly expressed the hope that the journalists could respect China's laws and regulations.

    "During the Beijing Olympics, China will provide sufficient convenience for foreign journalists to access to the Internet. The channel is smooth for foreign journalists in Beijing to report the Games and report China using the Internet," Sun said.

    "If a few websites are difficult to browse, it's mainly because they have spread content that is banned by the Chinese laws," he said.

    Journalistic freedom, at any time, is a relative but not absolute conception. Even for the media in the United States, contempt of court and violation of citizen's privacy are banned by laws.

    The reporters' freedom to interview people is one important content of press freedom. Every overseas journalist without prejudices will agree that as a result of China's three-decade-long reform and opening-up, journalistic practice in the country has become increasingly unfettered, and overseas journalists are provided with more convenience and service while doing reports in China.

    In a bid to host a high-standard Olympic Games with distinctive features, and to further promote the Olympic spirit and help the world better understand China, the Chinese government has adopted and implemented a series of new laws and regulations, such as the "Regulations on Reporting Activities in China by Foreign Journalists during the Beijing Olympic Games and the Preparatory Period."

    To facilitate foreign media's reporting activities in China, the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 29th Olympic Games (BOCOG) and relevant government departments have provided a variety of services for the foreign media, such as satellite news gathering equipment, filming access to the Tian'anmen Square, and simplified customs clearing procedures for news gathering equipment.

    The BOCOG also applies a "zero refusal policy" for interview requests, which means all requests for interviews will be answered and properly arranged. As long as the involved units and individuals agree in advance, the overseas media will have no restrictions to conduct the interview.

    The openness to media complies with both international conventions and the Chinese laws. Just like other countries, China regulates the Internet according to law.

    The Chinese laws forbid anyone to spread illegal information, such as preaching an evil cult like the Falungong, or do anything that harms national interests through the Internet.

    Like what Sun Weide, the spokesman, said, the channel is smooth for foreign journalists in Beijing to report the Games and report China using the Internet.

    Ju-Nie Shen Muller, sports editor of the World Journal, the largest Chinese language newspaper in North America, said that she found the Olympic Internet service "speedy and stable."

    "My articles can be sent back to editing office very smoothly, and I can go every website I must go, to find the information I need in my reporting from the Internet," she said.

    China now has the world largest Internet using population with as many as 253 million netizens. Surfing the Internet has become an important part of the Chinese people's daily life. All facts prove that China's laws and regulations on Internet regulation fit its national conditions.

    Thanks to the reform and opening-up drive, China has achieved tremendous progress not only in economic development, but also in legal system construction.

    Earlier, some overseas media alleged that the Beijing Olympic Village banned the use of Bible. However, anyone who has common sense about the Chinese laws shall know that in China the freedom of religious belief is protected by law, and therefore it is both illegal and impossible for this so-called "ban" to exist.

    Similarly, anyone who has some knowledge abut the Chinese laws will understand China's stand on the evil cults.

    As the countdown to the Beijing Games enters the final days, China as the host country has come under the international spotlight. In fact, the country is trying its best to fulfill its promises to both the International Olympic Committee and the international community. However, the seriousness of the law shall by no means be allowed to be undermined by anyone on any excuses.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia
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