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China's Media Clampdown Criticized Ahead Of Olympics

Security guards outside the Olympic Village in Beijing
Security guards outside the Olympic Village in Beijing
Around 25,000 foreign journalists are expected to cover the Summer Olympics in China next month, and Beijing had promised temporary regulations to allow complete media freedoms during the Games.

In a new report, however, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says China continues to severely breach that pledge, harassing and restricting foreign journalists in Tibet and elsewhere.

"Correspondents face severe difficulties in accessing forbidden zones, geographical areas and topics which the Chinese government considers sensitive and thus off-limits to foreign media," says the report, titled "China's Forbidden Zones: Shutting the Media Out of Tibet and Other 'Sensitive' Stories."

The report cites extensive examples of Chinese media abuses and restrictions, including a media ban during the Tibet riots in March. It also slams the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for not doing more to ensure China lives up to its media and human rights pledges.

HRW is urging the IOC to establish a 24-hour hotline in Beijing for reporters during the Games to report media violations.

Phelim Kine, an Asia researcher with HRW, writes in "The Wall Street Journal's" Asia edition that in future the IOC should incorporate a permanent human rights mechanism into the selection process for Olympic host cities

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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