Chinese 2008 Beijing Olympic judo champion stripped of world title for dope test failure


A Chinese Olympic judo champion has been punished after failing a doping test – but her coach says too many pork chops are to blame.

Tong Wen was the women’s 78-kilogram gold medallist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

She has been banned for two years and stripped of her 2009 world title after testing postive for Clenbuterol.

But her coach, Wu Weifeng, believes China’s well-documented food safety problems are responsible for the first positive test by a Chinese Olympic champion.

Wu says Clenbuterol is a cheap chemical illegally used as an additive to feed pigs in China and it causes breathing disorders and rising blood pressure.

Tong Wen was tested at the world championships in the Netherlands last year. (Australia Network News)

China, Canada, the Olympics, and Human Rights


By Martin Tampier, via The Canada Free Press,  Friday, February 12, 2010 -

Canada will open its arms to athletes from over 80 nations. As Olympic hosts, we do not discriminate between countries whose governments do or do not share our values. And rightly so, many will say, for the Olympics are about sports and not about politics. Yet, this is only part of the truth. The Olympic Games always contain a strong political element. The decision of the IOC to hold the Games in Beijing in 2008 was clearly a political one. Holding the Games always includes the desire to bring different cultures and political convictions together, overcome diplomatic obstacles, and promote international harmony, peace, and human dignity.

But in China, no positive effect along those lines has been observed. On the contrary, the Chinese government has intensified the persecution of its own very best citizens since about the year before the Summer Olympics, and this persecution is continuing and increasing today, unabatedly. It is well known that corruption is a major hindrance on the nation’s way towards greater prosperity. The basic tenets of Christianity, such as not to lie or steal and to love your neighbour, make this religion a strong opponent of corruption and social injustice. Yet, it is especially this group that continues to be ostracized and brutally persecuted by China’s communist government.

The persecution not only includes church members and pastors – including men, women, the old, and the young – but also those who defend them. As Canadians, we find it hard to imagine that a government could completely ignore the rule of law and arrest, incarcerate, and torture lawyers that stand up for human rights supposedly guaranteed by the Chinese state. This cruel irony meant the withdrawal of their licences to 22 human rights lawyers in 2009. Others found themselves fired because their superiors had been put under pressure and threatened by government officials to let them go.

One particular case illustrates the disdain the Chinese government has for its own laws, and how it feels threatened by the few who are trying to hold the government accountable for its decisions, and make China a better country. This case is about human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Gao was detained one year ago, on February 4, 2009. His crime? He defended persecuted Christians and others who have been abused by the Chinese government for their beliefs. Gao had been arrested before, tortured, and released under threats not to talk about his treatment. Courageously, he nevertheless revealed details about his case, which can easily be found on the Internet. Whereas his close family was able to take refuge in the United States last year, grave concerns about Gao’s health and possible further torture remain until today. Incredibly, the Chinese government refused to reveal any information whatsoever for more than a year now about where Gao is being held and what his current status is. He has simply disappeared in Chinese custody, without access to the outside world, a defence lawyer, or his own family, and without any legal proceedings, never mind a set date for a trial. But despite a petition signed by 100,000 people presented to the Chinese embassy in the United States and continued pressure about Gao’s case on the Chinese government, the latter is still stonewalling. With impertinence, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu publicly acknowledged Gao’s case to the media in January: “The relevant judicial authorities have decided this case, and we should say this person, according to Chinese law, is where he should be.”…… (More details from The Canada Free Fress)

RSF Calls for release of China’s “Olympic prisoners” during Vancouver Games


Reporters Without Borders, Feb. 11, 2010-

As Vancouver prepares to inaugurate the 2010 Winter Olympics tomorrow, China continues to detain human rights activists, journalists and bloggers who were arrested for speaking out before, during and after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“Dozens of Chinese families continue to suffer the awful effects of the last Olympics because a loved-one is still in jail for using the fundamental right to free expression,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee and its president, Jacques Rogge, are doing nothing to obtain the release of these innocent people, whose ordeal is a stain on the Olympic movement’s reputation.”

Reporters Without Borders has sent a petition to Rogge asking him to intercede with the Chinese authorities and seek the release of the “Olympic prisoners” during the Vancouver Games. Signed by more than 1,600 Internet users, the petition urges Rogge “to speak up and to act in defence of free expression.”

Reporters Without Borders will hand in copies of the petition at the Chinese embassies in Paris and Berlin tomorrow. The petition also urges Chinese President Hu Jintao to ask the competent authorities in China to release the “Olympic prisoners.”

More information about the “Olympic prisoners”: http://www.rsf.org/en-petition34043…

- Reporters Without Borders

London Mayor’s deputy: I HAD SEX WITH A CHINESE SPY, during the Beijing Olympics


By Kate Mansey, The Mirror, UK, Nov. 29, 2009-

Boris Johnson’s deputy was lured into a classic honeytrap by a beautiful Chinese agent in scenes which could have come straight out of a spy novel.

Ian Clement went up to his Beijing hotel room for sex with the secret service siren… but was drugged and came round hours later to find his room had been ransacked.

The London Mayor’s No 2 discovered the woman had rifled through confidential documents and downloaded details about how the capital is run from his BlackBerry smartphone.

Clement hid the shameful episode from his boss but today he comes clean, admitting: “I fell for the oldest trick in the book.”

The £127,000-a-year politician walked into the trap during the Beijing Olympics last year, when he was on a Government mission to build contacts with potential investors for the 2012 London Games.

Clement, who had a partner back in Britain at the time, said: “Before I went out I had to be briefed by MI6. They told me about honeytraps and warned me that the Chinese secret service often use women to entice men to bed to get information. I didn’t think for one minute that I would fall for it.”

The 44-year-old Tory met the girl at an official party on the opening night of the Olympics. He was accompanying Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell to China and was sitiing just a few rows from then US President George Bush.

Clement confessed: “I know I’m no George Clooney, so when lots of attractive women are being particularly friendly it’s not normal.

“At the party a pretty Chinese woman came up to me, gave me her card and asked me to go for a drink. I thought nothing of it but when I got back to my hotel, she was in the reception.”

After two glasses of wine, Clement invited the girl to his room. He woke to see all his documents strewn around – and the girl disappearing.

Clement said: “I wasn’t thinking straight. I was thinking like a heterosexual bloke who is an 11-hour flight from home. I knew I shouldn’t be doing it but by then I was drunk.

“The next thing I knew I was waking up and she was dressed and leaving the hotel room. My wallet was open. She had plainly gone through it but I knew she wasn’t a simple thief because nothing was missing. I think we had sex but in truth I can’t remember. She must have drugged my drink.

“While I was in Beijing I was making planning decisions from my BlackBerry. We’re talking major, major decisions.

“They wanted to know which businesses I was courting. I think she was looking to see my plans, who I was meeting and how the new Conservative administration was working in London.”

Clement kept the squalid encounter secret from Boris Johnson. He said: “I didn’t call the office in London to tell them. I have never had a conversation with Boris about this. It wasn’t a breach of British security on a national level.

“What she had learned from me was economic information about how London is run – it wasn’t something that would put the people of the UK at risk so that was why I kept it to myself.

“But it’s right to stand up and say, ‘I’m sorry, I messed up.’”

Clement lost his job a year later when he was found to have fiddled his expenses. He resigned as Deputy Mayor in June after it was revealed he claimed £156 on meals for his girlfriend.

He had been putting personal expenses on a credit card and paying it back, but tried to claim a date was a meeting with Tory officials.

Clement was convicted and ordered to do community service painting public toilets – and is still wearing a curfew tag. He said: “I’m not bitter. The only person I’m angry with is myself.”

- www.mirror.co.uk

China: Return to outdated rules for Hong Kong and Macau journalists


Reporters Without Borders, 6 February 2009 -

Reporters Without Borders
deplores the fact that the more relaxed regulations for the foreign press that were introduced for the Olympic Games will no longer apply to Hong Kong and Macau journalists visiting the mainland although they have been maintained for foreign journalists. The Chinese authorities have told the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) that reporters from Hong Kong and Macau must obtain a press card from an official body in order to work on the mainland and must request permission from the authorities before every trip into the interior, much as they did before the more new regulations took effect.

“Why are journalists from Hong Kong and Macau being treated less well than foreign journalists?” Reporters Without Borders asked. “It is inexplicable. We urge the Chinese authorities not to return to the past in this way, reversing one of the few positive effects of the Olympic Games.”

Reporters Without Borders has just published an evaluation of the human rights situation in China six months after inauguration of the Olympic Games on 8 August.

It was the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of China’s State Council that today announced that journalists from the two special administrative regions would no longer enjoy the freedoms that were introduced for the Olympic Games period. They will now have to obtain a press card from the All-China Journalists Association (the official union) before working on the mainland, and they will have to show the card before interviewing Chinese citizens. The will also have to notify the authorities before travelling.

According to the government news agency Xinhua, the new regulations state that: “Journalists from Hong Kong and Macau must abide by national laws and journalism ethics and should carry out coverage objectively and fairly.”

Mak Yin-ting, a journalist and former general secretary of the HKJA, said: “In principle, it is unfair. In practice, it will depend on the good will of the authorities. In either case, it is not normal that this should be worse than the Olympic regulations”. Tam Chi-keung, the HKJA’s current chairperson, told Reuters: “This is returning to the old ways … this cannot fulfil the actual needs of Hong Kong and Macao journalists.”

A Hong Kong journalist who often visits the mainland told Reporters Without Borders: “The impact on our work depends on the way the local authorities apply it. I fear that, as regards sensitive stories, this will prevent us from doing our reporting properly. There could be a restrictive attitude during this coming year, which is a sensitive one.” The Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) told Reporters Without Borders that, if confirmed, this decision would be very disturbing and contrary to the open attitude displayed by the Chinese authorities during and after the Olympic Games.

- Reporters Without Borders

China’s repression continues after Beijing Olympics, media and dissidents fight back (5)


Reporters Without Borders, 5 February 2009 -

Would-be protesters still threatened

Some would-be protesters have been released, including the two elderly women who were given a reeducation sentence for requesting permission to demonstrate in one of the Beijing locations designated for this purpose during the Olympic Games.

But the police continue to prevent peaceful protests. For example, someone representing people who had been evicted from their land in Hubei province was arrested in mid-December for planning to go to Beijing to demonstrate.

Three Jiangsu province petition organisers were freed at the end of September after being held in illegal prisons during the Olympic Games. But according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Liu Xueli, a campaigner against forced evictions who had asked for permission to demonstrate in a designated place in August, has been sentenced to 21 months of reeducation through work. And Fuzhou-based petitioner Ji Sizun is still being held for wanting to demonstrate in Beijing during the games.

Ye Guozhu was meanwhile released in October after accepting compensation for the demolition of his home during the renovations carried out in Beijing in the run-up to the Olympic Games. He was to have been freed at the end of July, but the authorities decided to keep him in detention while the games were going on.

Finally, a Shanghai petitioner was beaten by police for daring to request assistance for his elderly mother who had to be hospitalised as a result of the stress she suffered during the games, when he was being kept under close police surveillance.

And the International Olympic Committee’s take?

“Exceptional games,” IOC president Jacques Rogge said at a news conference just before the closing ceremony. “The biggest intangible legacy of the games, and also a very important one, is that through the games, China has been scrutinized by the world, China has opened up to the world.” (END)

- Repression continues six months after Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, but media and dissidents fight back, The Reporters Without Borders

China’s repression continues after Beijing Olympics, media and dissidents fight back (3)


Reporters Without Borders, 5 February 2009 -

Just as many journalists and bloggers still in prison

The Olympic Games did not in any way help to obtain the release of imprisoned journalists and cyber-dissidents. In all, 79 are currently detained in China, many of them in appalling conditions.

The journalist Qi Chonghuai, for example, was beaten by fellow inmates in a prison in the eastern city of Tengzhou in November. He is also being forced to do difficult work in a mine run by the prison authorities. His wife said he has lost weight and is exhausted by the forced labour.

Journalists continue to be arrested. Guan Jian, a reporter with Wangluo Bao (网络宝,Network News), a Beijing-based weekly, was arrested on 1 December while looking into allegations of corruption in the real estate sector in Taiyuan, in the central province of Shanxi. A CCTV reporter, Li Min, was placed in detention in the same province four days later. She was accused of corruption by the provincial authorities, including prosecutor He Shusheng, after she had accused the prosecutor of “abuse of authority” during a TV report on the air. In both cases, the threat came from political or judicial provincial officials who refused to permit any attempt by the national press to take an interest in the murkier side of their activities. Blogger Guo Quan (郭泉) was arrested in mid-November in the eastern province of Jiangsu by police who said his articles were too radical. Prior to his arrest, he had called for the creation of a netizens party to combat online censorship. He had also announced his intention to sue the US company Google for ensuring that a search for his name on its Chinese-language search engine (http://www.google.cn) yielded no results.

As Hu Jia’s wife Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕), herself a blogger, said in a message thanking the European parliament for awarding Hu the Sakharov Prize: “There are now a great many exceptional people and people of goodwill in Chinese society who are going to great lengths to find ways to make the real situation in China known, and to express deeply-felt views, and the Internet is providing them with a very interesting platform. But unfortunately there is sometimes a very high price to be paid for this.”

Cracking down on dissidents

Wang Rongqing (王荣清), one of the leaders of the banned China Democracy Party and the editor of a dissident magazine, was sentenced to six years in prison for “subverting state authority” by a court in the eastern city of Hangzhou on 8 January. He was arrested a few weeks before the start of the Olympic Games. One of his relatives told Reporters Without Borders that his state of health was very worrying.

The repression has above all focused on the initiators of Charter 08, a call for democratic reforms that has been signed by 8,100 Chinese. One of its authors, leading free speech activist Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波), was arrested shortly after its release on 9 December and is still being held in a Beijing police residence. In all, more than a hundred signatories throughout China have been detained, questioned or threatened by the political police.

Liu Di (刘荻), who is better known by her blog name of “Stainless Steel Mouse,” was summoned for questioning by the Beijing police on 25 January. According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, the police interrogated her about the blog entries she had written about Charter 08 and the photo of Liu Xiaobo she had posted online, and they told her she was being placed under surveillance. The next day, a police car took up position outside her home and she can no longer go out without the Public Security Bureau’s permission.

Investigating the human rights situation during the Olympic Games period is not very safe either. In January, Beijing-based activist Wang Debang was interrogated for six hours by the Public Security Bureau, which accused him of helping to write a human rights report. His home was searched and his computer was confiscated.

Wang Lianxi (王连玺), a worker who spent 18 years in prison for his role in the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989, was confined against his will in a psychiatric hospital before the Olympic Games for fear he would stage demonstrations in Beijing……. (to be cont’d)

- Repression continues six months after Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, but media and dissidents fight back, The Reporters Without Borders

China’s repression continues after Beijing Olympics, media and dissidents fight back (1)


Reporters Without Borders, 5 February 2009 -

Six months after the Beijing Olympics began on 8 August 2008, Reporters Without Borders urges the Chinese authorities to release all the free speech activists and other citizens still being held in connection with the games. Foreign journalists continue to enjoy the freer regulations introduced for the Olympics (even if they have not been applied in Tibet), but at least 17 Chinese journalists, bloggers and free speech activists have been arrested since the games ended.

“For hundreds of Chinese, the Olympic legacy is measured in years in prison, administrative sanctions or police surveillance,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This is degrading for the Olympic movement, but the authorities still have a chance to change the situation by freeing those who were arrested for expressing their views in connection with the games.”

The press freedom organisation added: “It is also deplorable that improved access to websites, one of the few benefits derived from the Olympic Games, has been rolled back. It is clear that the Olympic human rights legacy promised by the government and the International Olympic Committee is extremely meagre.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy attended the opening ceremony of the games and submitted a list of political prisoners whose release he requested on the European Union’s behalf. None of them has been freed. Sarkozy’s list was headed by Hu Jia (胡佳), who has been held for more than a year and is in poor health. The authorities continue to refer to him as a “criminal,” although he was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize. Huang Qi (黄琦), who was arrested in June 2008 for writing about the victims of the previous month’s earthquake in Sichuan, is still awaiting trial and his family still have not been allowed to see him.

Writer and lawyer Yang Maodong (杨茂东) continues to be mistreated in the southern province of Guangdong. Fellow lawyer Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), who has had acute diarrhoea for months, was denied an early release on medical grounds by the authorities in Shandong last month.

Yang Chunlin (杨春林), one of the initiator of the “We want human rights not Olympic Games” campaign, is still detained in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang, where he has to work 14 hours a day in a prison factory. Tibetan monk Tenzin Delek continues to be held in Sichuan province, serving a life sentence on a charge of “inciting separatism.”

The failure of the European Union’s attempts to get China to release prisoners of conscience should induce the EU to adopt a new strategy. Reporters Without Borders calls for repeated joint requests for their release, requests that are not just made in the course of the discreet meetings that are taking place as part of the EU-China dialogue on human rights…….  (to be cont’d)

- Repression continues six months after Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, but media and dissidents fight back, The Reporters Without Borders

Review: China in 2008– the CCP started to lose its stranglehold


The Diplomat, Australia, 24-Dec-2008 -

Government insider turned dissident writer Jennifer Zeng asks whether 2008 will be remembered as the year the CCP started to lose its stranglehold over China

A once-in-a-hundred-year snowstorm marked an ominous beginning for a supposedly magnificent year for China. In its aftermath came violent protests in Tibet, the controversial Olympic torch relay, the devastating Sichuan earthquake, the Olympics themselves, a poisoned milk powder scandal and financial turmoil.

In some quarters, the handling of these events by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), particularly the response to the earthquake, was praised for its openness. But as someone who has suffered persecution and oppression at the hands of the current regime, my view is somewhat different.

In 2001, after spending a year in the Beijing Female Forced Labour Camp for practising Falun Gong, I escaped to Australia to seek asylum. Electric shocks, beatings, sleep deprivation and endless hard labour had been daily ordeals, and every moment was a battle between life and death as the police used all means to force us to renounce Falun Gong.

Once in Australia, I wrote about my experiences. Speaking at a forum, I was asked whether I saw any similarity between the suffering Tibetans have endured and my own. I suddenly realised that much of my knowledge about Tibet came from the CCP propaganda I had grown up with, such as how China had ‘liberated’ Tibetans from feudal slavery and how happy Tibetan people were today.

Why was I so ignorant of the real state of affairs? I had a Masters degree from Peking University, and after graduating I worked as a policy researcher and consultant in the Development Centre of the State Council (China’s cabinet), even writing a speech for the then Premier. Such a background should have qualified me as informed rather than ignorant. Yet my world view had been totally shaped by the oppressive, pervasive information control in my native country.

Olympics and PR perpetuate China’s legitimacy

A controlled world view was the reason that thousands of Chinese students turned Canberra into a sea of red to ‘defend’ their motherland when the Olympic torch reached Australia. The students’ actions were reported to have strong Chinese government support, which is hardly surprising given that patriotism and nationalism have become the two most important weapons used by the CCP to maintain its power, and the regime plays those cards at every opportunity.

Now that Western journalists have been allowed back into Tibet, it has become apparent that, despite Kevin Rudd’s criticism back in April, terrible things continued to happen in the region while the world was focused on the Olympics. Yet inside China until very recently, few people sought to challenge the Party’s version of events, instead applauding the government’s censure of foreign leaders who had the temerity to question China’s human rights record.

It is this long-term absence of criticism – achieved through suppression and information control – that has historically given the authorities the licence to act with impunity in Tibet. Even the Dalai Lama now appears to have admitted defeat, announcing in October 2008 that he had ‘given up on efforts to convince Beijing to allow greater autonomy for Tibet under Chinese rule.’

Information control even extends to natural disasters. My parents and two sisters live only 100km from Wenchuan, the epicentre of the Sichuan earthquake. Amazingly, I managed to speak to my mother only three hours after the quake. ‘I heard rumours that there would be earthquakes in May,’ she said, ‘but I never dreamed there really would be one…’

In his book, The Tangshan Warning, Zhang Qingzhou details how the prediction of the Tangshan earthquake that killed an estimated quarter of a million people in 1976 was suppressed by the authorities, and how a local official in Qinglong County managed to save 400,000 lives because he ‘happened’ to hear of this prediction and chose to warn people.

The ‘rumours’ my panicked mother was referring to concerned reports that the CCP had again suppressed the earthquake forecast because it did not qualify as ‘harmonious news’ in the run-up to the Olympic Games.

Wang Zhaoshan, Vice President of the Writers Association in Shangdong Province, claimed in his poem, ‘Accounts under the Rubble’, that even those children who were buried under the ruins were impatient to cheer together with 1.3 billion Chinese people, if only they could have a TV set in front of their graves to watch the Beijing Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee, Western leaders, sponsors and business leaders who attended the opening ceremony may continue to insist on the importance of engaging China and that politics should be separated from sport, but that does not disguise the fact that the CCP cynically used the Beijing Olympics to enhance and perpetuate its own political legitimacy.

For the Party, the Olympics represented the ultimate PR campaign. That is why more money was spent on these Games than any other Olympics in history. That is why the thousands whose homes were bulldozed to make way for Olympic infrastructure were considered expendable and thrown out onto the street with little or no compensation. And that is why over 8000 Falun Gong practitioners were arrested in the six months before the Olympics. Most are still in custody, many have been tortured and, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center, at least six deaths have occurred.

1 2 3

(to be cont’d)

- The Diplomat

China mulls crackdown on lip-synching 3 months after olympic scandal


AFP, Nov.14, 2008-

BEIJING (AFP) — China plans to punish singers who lip-synch for “cheating the public,” the ministry of culture said Thursday.

A draft set of rules for commercial performances published on its website stipulates that artistes must not “use pre-recorded songs or music to replace live singing or instrument playing” to “cheat the public.”

Those who are caught in the act will be punished, the rules say, without specifying what the penalties will be.

“We’re seeking input from the public about this regulation,” a spokeswoman for the ministry, who did not want to be named, told AFP.

It comes three months after lip-synching caused a storm during the Olympic Games opening ceremony after it was revealed that a girl who moved millions of viewers with a stirring song was actually miming.

The show’s musical director revealed she was put on stage because she was prettier than the real singer, who performed from behind the scenes.

A report on the semi-official China News Service news agency suggested the punishments for lip-synching would involve exposing an individual performer, group or organiser in public.

Their licence would be revoked if they breached the rules again within two years, the report said.

- AFP: China mulls crackdown on lip-synching

Email shows China listed U.S. athletes as possible troublemakers in Beijing Olympics


By Christine Brennan, USA TODAY, Oct. 30, 2008-

China’s government was so concerned about the possibility of athlete demonstrations in the Beijing Olympics that it created a list of nine U.S. athletes and one assistant coach it thought might cause trouble at the Games, according to an internal U.S. Olympic Committee e-mail obtained by USA TODAY.

The names included softball players Jennie Finch and Jessica Mendoza and soccer player Abby Wambach, who broke her leg and missed the Olympic Games. It also included two Paralympians, one athlete who wasn’t a member of the 2008 softball team and a top female collegiate golfer. Golf is not an Olympic sport.

“We viewed these concerns as being entirely unjustified and unwarranted,” USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said in an e-mail Wednesday. “As such, we rejected the request to address this with our athletes. We saw absolutely no need to burden the athletes with this.”

The list was given to USOC officials in a July 8 meeting by Shu Xiao, minister counselor for cultural affairs at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, according to the e-mail.

“Shu appeared quite concerned” about members of the U.S. team staging “some sort of demonstration at the Games,” the e-mail said, because “many of them” were “apparently associated with Team Darfur,” an international coalition of athletes committed to raising awareness about the crisis in Darfur, Sudan.

Seibel said the USOC “communicated to the embassy in clear terms that our athletes would have the same right to free speech and free expression, consistent with what is set forth in the Olympic Charter, that they have enjoyed at previous Games. We made certain those rights would in no way be infringed upon or compromised.”

“This may be the biggest compliment of my life,” Wambach, a member of Team Darfur, said in a phone interview when informed of the list. “If they’re worried about us, maybe we do have more strength as athletes and as people to speak out. This just gives me more empowerment.”

Calls to the Chinese Embassy on Wednesday went unanswered.

- USA TODAY

China Should Immediately Release Jailed Olympics Dissident Hu Jia, Says HRW


Human Rights Watch-

(New York, October 2, 2008) – The Chinese government should immediately exonerate or grant medical parole to imprisoned human rights activist Hu Jia, Human Rights Watch said just ahead of the sixth-month anniversary of his flawed conviction. Human Rights Watch also called on the government to cease the harassment and surveillance of Hu’s wife Zeng Jinyan and infant daughter Qianci.

A leading HIV/AIDS advocate, Hu Jia became an outspoken critic of human rights abuses related to the preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was sentenced to a three-and-a-half-year prison term on April 3, 2008, for “inciting subversion against the state.” Authorities have limited his access to his lawyer, thus violating Hu’s fundamental rights and resulting in proceedings that did not meet international fair trial standards. He suffers from liver cirrhosis linked to chronic hepatitis B infection.

“Hu Jia was incarcerated for doing nothing more than exercising rights expressly guaranteed by China’s constitution,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “If the government won’t exonerate Hu, it should at least release him to get proper medical care.”

Hu, a long-time activist who originally focused on violations of the rights of Chinese citizens infected with HIV/AIDS, was formally arrested on January 30, 2008. He was charged with “incitement to subvert state power,” which criminalizes criticism of the government and the Communist Party of China. Hu’s criticisms included a September 2007 letter written with Teng Biao, a fellow human rights activist and leading civil rights lawyer, entitled “The Real China and the Olympics.” The letter detailed specific and wide-ranging violations of human rights by the government, and called on the international community to hold Beijing to the promises it made when bidding to host the Olympic Games, including improving human rights.

Human Rights Watch said that Hu’s arrest and conviction was part of a systematic crackdown on Chinese citizens critical of human rights abuses linked to the preparations for the 2008 Beijing Games. Other activists targeted by the Chinese government include Yang Chunlin, a property rights activist detained in July 2007 for his involvement in a petition, “We Want Human Rights, Not the Olympics,” signed by farmers protesting land seizures; Ye Guozhou, serving a four-year prison sentence for organizing protests against Olympics-related forced evictions; and Wang Ling, sentenced to 15 months of “re-education” in November 2007 for opposing demolition of her property for an Olympics-related project.

Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, has documented the decline in Hu’s health since his arrest in December on her blog. But, despite a 2006 diagnosis by Beijing’s Ditan Hospital of “acute liver cirrhosis,” the Chinese government in June 2008 rejected Zeng’s April 2008 application for Hu’s medical parole. Authorities told Zeng that Hu is not “critically ill,” and that any such applications can only be filed after he has served one-third of his sentence. On July 25, 2008, Zeng wrote that “[Hu’s] eyesight had declined greatly in his time at the detention centre. … [He] also said that because his right hand was handcuffed so tightly, it was digging into his flesh, and leaving marks.” On September 16, 2008, a national security officer told Zeng that medical parole for Hu was impossible because he had been “disobedient” and refused to be “quiet,” thus violating prison rules.

On September 8, 2008, Zeng also noted in a blog entry that prison authorities were confiscating letters that Hu had written and that they were refusing to allow Zeng and other relatives to visit Hu in line with prison regulations. Zeng said that police had told her they were linking an improvement in Hu’s prison conditions with an end to his activism for better conditions inside the prison. “He had put forward suggestions about how to improve the prison, and he wouldn’t drop the issue of human rights, thus making things difficult for the prison’s staff and management,” Zeng wrote in her blog.

Zeng has been under house arrest in Beijing since May 18, 2007, and continues to be the target of police surveillance along with her 10-month-old daughter Qianci. House arrest without charge is an extrajudicial punishment that has no legal basis in either Chinese or international law. Beijing police, who closely monitor Zeng’s activities and restrict her movement outside her apartment, escorted her and her daughter from their home on August 7, 2008, the day before the start of the Beijing Olympics, and kept her incommunicado in the coastal city of Dalian until August 23, the day before the end of the Beijing Games. “For 16 days, I knew nothing of what was going on in the world,” Zeng wrote in her blog. “Home remains the same – there are still plainclothes police officers in the courtyard and at all the exits.”

“The authorities’ relentless harassment of Zeng Jinyan and her young daughter not only violates their basic rights, but is essentially collective punishment for Hu Jia’s activities,” said Richardson. “Is this Beijing’s definition of the ‘rule of law?’”

- China: Release Jailed Rights Activist Hu Jia, by Human Rights Watch

China covered up milk scare to protect Olympics: critics


AFP, Sep. 30, 2008-

BEIJING (AFP) — China knew about the contamination of milk products months ago but covered the scandal up to prevent it tarnishing the Beijing Olympics, according to journalists, rights groups and media critics.

The crisis broke in mid-September, a month after the Olympics, but several Chinese reporters had long known about babies being hospitalised after drinking tainted milk, yet were muzzled by the authorities, the critics say.

An editor at a respected southern China newspaper said that as early as July one of his reporters was investigating how milk powder might have been to blame for children developing kidney stones and falling seriously sick.

“As a news editor, I was deeply concerned because I sensed that this was going to be a huge public health disaster,” Southern Weekend news editor Fu Jianfeng said on his blog.

“But I could not send any reporters out to investigate. Therefore, I harboured a deep sense of guilt and defeat at the time.”

Fu’s blog posting was later removed, although it could be read on some overseas Chinese websites. Fu himself could not be reached for comment.

An estimated 53,000 Chinese children have been sickened after the industrial chemical melamine was added to milk products, and four infants have died.

The first of the baby deaths was on May 1, more than four months before the scandal went public.

Starting with Sanlu milk powder, the scare has gone on to envelop numerous Chinese firms and international companies operating in China, including global giants Cadbury and Unilever.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao vowed over the weekend to work to restore his country’s reputation, saying it was facing the problem “candidly”.

However, there are claims that Chinese authorities reverted to the familiar practice of squashing the negative news reports, apparently conscious of the damage it would do to the August 8-24 Olympics.

“Several Chinese journalists have said it is becoming more and more obvious that the authorities in July prevented an investigation into the toxic milk coming out so as not to tarnish China’s image before the Olympics,” said a statement by media rights group Reporters Without Borders.

Sanlu Group began receiving complaints of sick children as early as last December, a recent cabinet probe found in an apparent attempt to shift the blame for the delay.

It also said Communist officials in the northern city of Shijiazhuang, where Sanlu is based, delayed referring the matter to higher authorities for more than a month after Sanlu finally told them of the problem on August 2, six days before the Beijing Games began.

“It is a concern that the first cases appeared early, but were concealed during the Olympics. A perfect environment was needed for the Games,” said a Western product-safety expert who asked not to be named.

Despite the World Health Organisation and United Nations raising concerns about the delay in exposing the risks, rights groups say the Chinese government is continuing to silence reporters, suppressing media coverage vital to determining blame and preventing a recurrence.

“The government’s gag order on the media has the effect of shielding those responsible for the tainted milk from accountability,” Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a network of domestic and foreign rights activists, said in an emailed report.

It cited several instances of reporting by Chinese media censored or banned by authorities. The instances could not be confirmed by AFP.

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists last week also criticised China for “escalated restrictions” on reporting on the scandal.

It said propaganda authorities had expelled journalists from at least four Chinese newspapers in the same city as Sanlu’s headquarters.

It also said authorities had deleted articles on the case from news websites and insisted on pre-approving related articles.

“China’s Central Propaganda Department’s attempts to control the media’s reporting of a very serious public health crisis can only serve to heighten fears,” the IFJ said.

“A free flow of information through a free media is vital where lives are at stake, and government restrictions on journalists may be endangering public health.”

China has blamed the scandal largely on milk brokers adding melamine to boost milk protein readings.

- AFP

China coming out its way


The China Post news staff, Taiwan, Wednesday, August 27, 2008-

Like it or not, China has come out in her own way through the Beijing Olympic Games. It scored the most gold medals (51, 15 more than the U.S. in second) and more important, kept its censorship intact on Tibet and Falun Gong issues despite international criticism.

The Beijing Games were a victory for the ruling communists, the victory of a one-party state that has removed the spontaneity and joy of the Games, and proved form can triumph over substance.

Beijing leaders used to believe in communism; now they simply believe in communist rule. Each Olympics goes a long way to characterize the host nation. Thus it was, for example, that the Barcelona Games finally expunged the image of Spain’s fascist past and established the vibrancy of a relatively new democracy. The Moscow Games were definitive in reaffirming the grim reputation of the old Soviet Union. Enough has been said about Hitler’s Olympics in Munich to be sure of its lingering impression on the world.

However, when the authoritarian regime in South Korea sought to use the Seoul Games to assert the supremacy of the dictatorship, it ended up signaling its demise. The Beijing leadership is sure the same won’t happen in China.

Those who look to the Olympics to affirm China’s position as a world power capable of staging world-class events should not be disappointed. Those who said the state should display ruthless authoritarianism have equal cause for satisfaction.

Beijing’s cheerleaders rightly predicted that China had the ability to produce a spectacular and well-organized event that would linger in the memory for its magnificence.

And the critics, who were concerned over the impact on human rights and freedom of expression, also proved to be correct because China quickly abandoned pledges to allow demonstrations or permit reporters to do their job freely; nor was the great firewall surrounding the Internet in China dismantled.

But as Beijing has sentenced two frail women in their late 70s to labor camp because they insisted on applying to hold a legal protest during the Olympics, then that is an outrage to be addressed not by “silent diplomacy” but by crying it out aloud.

At a cost of US$40 billion, the Beijing Olympics represented the most expensive coming-out party in history, many doubt whether China will earn a decent return on its investment. The anticipated influx of tourists did not materialize, and despite “selling every ticket” efforts, venues were less than half full…….. (more details from China Post)

China Shows The World What Could Be Achieved If Personal Freedom Suspended


Martin Samuel, The Times Online, UK, August 27, 2008-

Poor old Robert Mugabe. Do you know what that guy needs? An Olympics. Harare 2012, he really missed a trick there. A well-run Games and nothing else matters. Put on a show, throw up a couple of impressive buildings and the world is your friend.

The road home from Beijing is lined with wide-eyed converts who’ve seen the light on totalitarianism. “China has set the bar very high,” Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said. “There are some things that London will not be able to compare to, or equal – such as the ability to bring hundreds of thousands of volunteers to different sites.” Yes, Jacques, it is amazing what people can achieve once they appreciate there is no alternative.

And there isn’t in China. About 100 miles south of Beijing, an agricultural community has been destroyed because its water supply was rerouted to deliver a green and blooming Olympics. Road blocks stop people from that area travelling north, while taxi drivers were told to take any passengers with unusual requests directly to the police.

Official reports state, however, that the 31,000 people that lost homes or land are delighted to be making this sacrifice. “The legacy of these Games is ultimately up to the Chinese people,” Rogge added, but that is a lie too. Nothing can be decided by an oppressed people.

What happens next in China is no more determined by its citizens than the destiny of Iraq was in the hands of Iraqis. The West got rid of Saddam Hussein, not the locals. When the eyes of the world turn from Beijing, this regime will go back to its old ways quicker than a Jamaican sprinter out of the blocks.

Not that it made much pretence of reform while under scrutiny. There were 77 requests to protest in official zones agreed with the IOC, but none was granted. A number of applicants were sentenced to re-education through labour, including two women, aged 79 and 77, one of whom is disabled and almost blind.

“You can get big headlines back home by slating the oppressive regime, but there is a risk of going too far,” Tessa Jowell, the Minister for the Olympics, said. Quite right, Tessa. Oppressive regimes have feelings, too, don’t they? As a member of Tony Blair’s Government, Tessa clearly did not think that it was going too far to accuse an oppressive regime of possessing weapons of mass destruction, bombing it, invading it, and then finding none; but having got on the totalitarian happy pills in Beijing, she knows the pain that a media barb can bring. Worse than collateral damage, that is.

This is the most worrying legacy of the Beijing Games. It has shown our ministers, civil servants and sports administrators what could be achieved, if we could only suspend personal freedom. Change is afoot. There was a sketch in the infamous Brass Eye television comedy in which the predatory paedophile and child murderer Sidney Cooke was to be fired into space, only for it to be discovered that an eight-year-old boy was sealed in the capsule with him.

The London Games had its Brass Eye moment on Sunday night when a video, made by the tourist authority Visit London and screened at the handover party, was found to contain an image of Myra Hindley, from a portrait by Marcus Harvey, shown at the Royal Academy in 1997.

I admit that I laughed. There we are, trying to look all Cool Britannia and icily efficient, and a picture of a notorious child murderer finds its way into the show. At the very least, we should be thankful to live in a society in which freedom of artistic expression is allowed. Although maybe not for much longer.

“It is disgraceful this night of British pride has been sullied,” said a government spokesman. “Those responsible should be found and sacked.” Or sent for re-education through labour, maybe. Now there is someone who has been supping too deeply from the cup of governmental control in Beijing.

No surprise that Ken Livingstone was lavishly entertained by the Chinese Government. Having done so much to smooth Anglo-Chinese relations with his astute comparison of the Tiananmen Square massacre (death toll 2,000-3,000, according to the Chinese Red Cross) with the poll tax riots (death toll none, according to everybody), it is clear what appeals to him about the Chinese system.

He said this week: “When I first got interested in politics all the quality papers had an entire page reporting MPs’ speeches. There would be the most salient point reported each morning.” The pronouncements of the powerful, dutifully recorded and displayed without comment, Ken? The Chinese people would recognise that.

Of course the Beijing Games went without a hitch. Give anyone total, terrifying control over a population, with force, and they will make them march in unison, drum, smile, dance, mime, jump through hoops if necessary. “They don’t look very oppressed,” wrote one observer. No, pal, and neither would you if you knew the consequences of complaint.

The same columnist wrote that the young girls carrying the flags before events were “perfect examples of what a beautiful young Chinese woman looks like”. Yes, they were. This is how that was achieved. Those applying for the job, who numbered thousands, had to be above 1.66m tall, pretty of face and stripped naked for the judges, who measured their body proportions. Isn’t that healthy?

Those performing the three-minute umbrella dance at the opening ceremony trained for six months for 14-15 hours each day, while the 900 soldiers unrolling the scroll that was the centrepiece of the production wore nappies because they had to stay hidden for seven hours, with not even a trip to the toilet allowed. And this is the event that our Olympics Minister called wondrous? That Rogge thinks will be hard to beat?

The Beijing Olympics was China’s Triumph of the Will. Immaculately staged, but there is a bit more to it than just choreography.

- Original: the Times Online

China’s 21-point censorship directive to Chinese media was biased and politicised, says RSF


Reporters Without Borders, 26 August 2008-

A 21-point directive which the Propaganda Department sent to the Chinese media prior to the Olympic Games shows the degree to which their coverage of the games was “biased and politicised,” Reporters Without Borders said today. The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post first reported the existence of the directive more than two weeks ago. Now a Chinese blogger has posted what is said to be the text of the directive online.

“It is not at all surprising that the Communist Party’s censorship agency banned coverage of demonstrations by pro-Tibetan groups or the existence of designated protest areas in Beijing but the instructions regarding food security and the Chinese team’s results are astounding,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call on the International Olympic Committee to investigate this censorship directive, which is both a violation of the commitments given in 2001 and yet another infringement of the free flow of news in China.”

Because of its timing, most of the subjects mentioned in the directive concern the Olympic Games. The Communist Party, the organiser of the games, was clearly afraid that they might be disrupted by sports, political or international news. So much so, that it even banned the media from criticising the Chinese Olympic team’s selection process (point 21).

Security is a major concern, with the party asking Chinese journalists to stick to the official version in the event that foreigners are involved in any emergency (point 17). The media are also asked to be “positive” in their coverage of the security measures adopted during the games (point 19).

As regards international affairs, the directive strongly advises the media to limit coverage of such current thorny issues as Burma, Darfur and North Korea (point 13). As is customary, the Propaganda Department urges the media to use the dispatches of the official news agency Xinhua when tackling any sensitive subject.

The directive also forbids the media to mention food security problems, the unblocking of dozens of websites, including the Reporters Without Borders site, on 1 August (point 2) and Chinese businessman Lai Changxing, who fled to Canada in 1999 to escape corruption charges (point 11). Any criticism of the 8 August opening ceremony is also forbidden (point 8), although the Chinese Internet was abuzz with comments of all kinds about the ceremony (point 10).

Read the Chinese 21-point directive on Reporters Without Borders’ website

Amnesty International accuses China and IOC for human rights abuse during Beijing Olympics


Amnesty International, 24 August 2008-

As the Beijing Olympics ended, Amnesty International today accused the Chinese authorities of prioritizing image over substance as it continued to persecute and punish activists and journalists during the Games.

The organization also criticised the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for tarnishing the human rights legacy of the Olympics by turning a blind eye to the abuses.

“The Beijing Olympics have been a spectacular sporting event but they took place against a backdrop of human rights violations, with activists prevented from expressing their views peacefully and many in detention when they have committed no crime,” said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Program Director in Hong Kong.

“The Chinese authorities and the IOC had an opportunity to demonstrate human rights improvements but in most respects they failed to deliver. Forced evictions, detention of activists and restrictions on journalists should not blight another Olympics,” said Roseann Rife.

Amnesty International’s statement came after Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, said at the closing of the Beijing Olympics:
‘These were truly exceptional Games.’

During the course of the Games, Amnesty International documented continued patterns of human rights violations directed at peaceful activists and journalists in China, including:

Activists being detained and punished — including by being assigned to “Re-education through Labour” — for repeatedly applying for permission to demonstrate in the protest zones.

The ongoing imprisonment or arbitrary arrests of Chinese journalists and human rights activists who have tried to report on human rights violations.

Petitioners and activists being denied permits to engage in peaceful demonstrations in government-designated protest zones in parks around Beijing. On 18 August, and after repeated questioning from the media, the Chinese authorities claimed they had received 77 protest applications involving 149 people, but that 74 had been ‘withdrawn’, two had been ‘suspended’ and one had been ‘vetoed’.

“It is high time for the IOC to put its core values of ‘human dignity’ and ‘universal, fundamental ethical principles’ into practice by making human rights a new pillar of the Olympic Games.”

Amnesty International called on the IOC to learn the lessons from Beijing by building concrete and measurable human rights impact indicators into all future Olympics bid processes and host city contracts.

Amnesty International recognized some positive steps taken by the authorities, including the unblocking of several international websites — such as http://www.amnesty.org  — in response to strong public concern expressed by Beijing-based journalists at the start of the Games.

However, Amnesty International urged the Chinese authorities to extend the unblocking across the board and to make permanent the temporary regulations introduced for foreign journalists in China in the run-up to the Games, ensuring that they are uniformly and effectively enforced.

Note to Editors
Many Chinese activists have been persecuted and punished for speaking out about human rights violations before or during the Beijing Olympics. For example:

*  Housing rights activist, Ye Guozhu , is being held in police custody after completing a four-year prison sentence in connection with his attempts to draw public attention to alleged forced evictions in Beijing due to Olympics-related construction. The police said he would be kept in detention to keep him and his family out of trouble until the Olympics and Paralympics were over. On 26 July, the police sent the family an official detention notice stating that Ye was being held at Xuanwu district police detention centre on suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb order in a public place”, but provided no further detail. Amnesty International received reliable reports that police beat him with electroshock batons before his trial and he was subjected to further beatings in prison.

* Two elderly women, Wu Dianyuan  (aged 79) and Wang Xiuying  (aged 77) were accused of “disturbing public order” and assigned to one year of RTL after they applied to demonstrate in one of the official protest zones. They had been petitioning the authorities since 2001 when they were evicted from their homes to make way for a development project. Beijing city officials ruled that they would not have to serve their time in an RTL facility as long as they ‘behaved’, but that restrictions would be placed on their movements.

The Olympic pillars are currently sports, culture and the environment. The environment was added in 1994 at the winter Olympics in Norway in recognition of the negative impact major sporting event can have on the surrounding environment.

- Original: Olympics: China and IOC must learn from mistakes and uphold human rights values

Apple iTunes website falls victim of China censorship: Beijing Olympics 2008


By Peter Foster in Beijing, The Telegraph, UK, 22 Aug 2008-

“Songs for Tibet”, produced by a group called The Art of Peace Foundation, featured 20 tracks by artists such as Sting, Moby, Suzanne Vega and Alanis Morissette and was intended to raise global awareness of the Tibetan issue.

Apple users in China first started reporting problems accessing the iTunes site on Monday, the same day that US-based Campaign for Tibet announced in a report that 40 Olympic athletes had downloaded the album.

Chatrooms, blogsites and message forums across China filled up with upset users complaining about the block which is assumed to be Tibet-related, although Chinese authorities haven’t formally confirmed this.

Several upset “netizens” – internet users – quoted pro-forma Apple customer support advice admitting that access to the site was “restricted in some areas in China”.

“I would advise that you contact your ISP [internet service provider] about this matter,” the advice concluded.

All ISPs in China are effectively controlled by the Chinese government which blocks what it regards as “sensitive or illegal” websites using keywords such as “Tibet”, “Falun Gong” or “Dalai Lama” to filter out web-traffic it deems inimical to China’s national interest.

iTunes sites are country-specific; however, many expatriates and returning Chinese still access the sites using credit cards registered in the US or Europe.

The apparent blocking of the iTunes site comes after Apple opened its first high street store in Beijing on the eve of the Olympic Games, billing it as the ‘first of many’ to be opened in a potentially lucrative market.

It remains to be seen what impact the blocking will have on Apple’s expansion plans in China. As part of a pledge to provide media covering the Beijing Olympics with unfettered access to the web, China had pledged to unblock many websites which were previously off-limits.

However despite unblocking some sites on the eve of the Games after pressure from the International Olympic Committee, many sites that mention Tibet, human rights and the outlawed Falun Gong religious group remain inaccessible.

- Original: Beijing Olympics 2008: Apple iTunes falls victim of Chinese censorship

RSF condemns China and IOC inability to ensure respect for free expression


Reporters Without Borders, Aug. 22, 2008-

With just two days to go to the closing ceremony, Reporters Without Borders today gave a negative evaluation of respect for free speech during the Beijing games. While most foreign reporters were able to cover the sports events without a problem, police and their civilian auxiliaries repeatedly prevented journalists from covering demonstrations or investigating subjects which the government regards as sensitive.

“As we feared, the Beijing Olympic games have been a period conducive to arrests, convictions, censorship, surveillance and harassment of more than 100 journalists, bloggers and dissidents,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said.

“This repression will be remembered as one of the defining characteristics of the Beijing games. The International Olympic Committee will have to accept much of responsibility for this failure. We think it is vital that the IOC’s members should draw the necessary conclusions in their choice of a president to succeed Jacques Rogge when his term of office is up in a year’s time.

“We also call for respect for free expression to become one of the criteria when selecting cities to host the games. Although the Olympic movement repeated its Beijing mistake when it chose the Russian city of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games, Reporters Without Borders will continue to campaign for guarantees for press freedom during sports events.

“We hail all those in China and abroad who did not stop pressing for more freedom of expression before the Olympic Games,” Ménard added. “We will remain vigilant in case the post-Olympic period ushers in a new wave of repression.”

No Chinese prisoner of conscience has been released since the games began on 8 August. But several (including Sun Lin, Huang Qi and Hu Jia) have seen a deterioration in their prison conditions and their health. A total of 31 journalists, bloggers and free speech activists have been arrested or given prison sentences since the start of the year.

Surveillance of foreign reporters was stepped up before and during the games. “They don’t stop following me, filming me and photographing me,” a foreign news agency journalist based in Beijing said. “I think twice before interviewing Chinese about sensitive issues for fear that they could be arrested.”

Commitments to respect press freedom were nonetheless made at the highest government level. President Hu Jintao himself said in the presence of the foreign press on 1 August that China would “facilitate the work” of foreign journalists “before and after the Beijing Olympic Games.” Liu Binjie, the person in charge of the General Administration of Press and Publications, said the “open door” for the foreign media “will not close after the games.”

A few figures

At least 22 foreign journalists were attacked or arrested or otherwise obstructed during the games. Two US video-bloggers, Brian Conley and Jeffrey Rae, are currently detained in Beijing for covering the activities of pro-Tibetan activists. They have been sentenced to 10 days in prison for “disrupting public order.” Reporters Without Borders calls for their immediate release.

At least 50 Beijing-based human rights activists were placed under house arrest, harassed or forced to leave the capital during the games.

At least 15 Chinese citizens were arrested for requesting permission to demonstrate. Dozens of others, including the blogger Zhou “Zola” Shuguang and the handicapped petitioner Chen Xiujuan, were physically prevented by police from travelling to the capital.

At least 47 pro-Tibet activists, mostly members or supporters of Students for a Free Tibet, were arrested in Beijing.

Continue reading

China’s locked-up protesters are reason enough to shun Olympics


BY CHARLES C. HAYNES, The Detroit Free Press, August 22, 2008-

The International Olympic Committee and the megabucks corporate sponsors of the games breathed a sigh of relief when the Beijing Olympics got under way with no major boycotts or disruptions.

Last spring, faced with widespread outrage over China’s brutal suppression of Tibetan protesters and stubborn support for murderous regimes in Sudan, Burma and Zimbabwe, IOC chairman Jacques Rogge nervously insisted “a boycott doesn’t solve anything.”

Rogge may be right. But that hasn’t stopped people of conscience around the world from banging freedom’s drum to counter the noisy celebrations of “peace and harmony” emanating from Beijing.

One small but telling protest caught my eye: Masahisa Tsujitani, a Japanese maker of the iron balls used by most shot-put medalists in the last four Olympics, refused to provide his product for the China games. “I feel badly for the athletes who won’t get to use my shots, but after Tibet, I know I’m right,” Tsujitani told the Los Angeles Times in April. “Enough is enough.”

Apparently, enough is not enough for President George W. Bush — the first American president to attend an Olympics outside of the United States — or for the other 100 world leaders whose presence at the opening ceremonies spoke volumes about China’s growing great-power clout.

For me, at least, the hypocrisy quotient is too high to stomach. That’s why I’m not watching the games. Of course, my private boycott won’t affect the Nielsen ratings one whit. Nor will my vow to avoid products sold by the 12 major corporate sponsors of the Olympics cause Coca-Cola executives to lose any sleep.

Nevertheless, it’s the least I can do for Gao Zhisheng, the human rights lawyer currently imprisoned by the Chinese government — and for the countless other prisoners of conscience in detention centers and forced labor camps throughout China.

Gao “disappeared” a year ago. But news of his torture has leaked out. According to an informant quoted by Sound of Hope Radio, Chinese authorities stripped Gao naked, “threw him to the ground and attacked him with electric batons.”

The treatment of Gao is typical of the torture routinely meted out to members of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement in China that has been viciously repressed by the government for years. Gao’s crime was that he dared to speak out against the brutal treatment of Falun Gong practitioners.

For all of the hype about how giving China the Olympics would lead to more openness and concern for human rights by Beijing, the opposite has taken place. No one is fooled by the few cosmetic attempts to placate dissent, such as the absurd “protest pens” inside three city parks. Chinese authorities are doing everything possible to stamp out any sign of protest — and are working overtime to keep the lid on freedom of speech, press and religion.

As documented by Freedom House, a widely respected human rights organization, China harasses and restricts Christians, Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists and members of other religions, imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world, and heavily censors the Internet — with the cooperation of foreign companies. Half of the world’s population living in countries designated “not free” by Freedom House live in China.

Much of the lofty rhetoric about the “nonpolitical” nature of these, or any, Olympics is pure nonsense. The 2008 Olympic Games are a political and economic bonanza for China, much as the 1936 games were a propaganda victory for Hitler’s Germany — despite the embarrassment to the Nazis caused by the star performance of Jesse Owens, the great black track-and-field star.

So why do so many world leaders and corporate CEOs hold their noses while China holds the games? Follow the gold.

The real winners in Beijing aren’t on the medal stands — they’re the Olympic sponsors and other corporations who are salivating at the prospect of tapping into the world’s largest untapped consumer market. Play by Chinese rules and the payoff could be worth billions.

Wearing face masks may ameliorate the dirty air of Beijing, but there’s no face-saving mask big enough to cover up the moral pollution of the Beijing Olympics.

- Original: freep.com

China: Gymnastic Medal Winners 14 Years Old, Underage, Official Document Shows


Jan Jekielek & Anna Yang, Epoch Times Staff Aug 20, 2008 -

An official Chinese document unearthed today provides further evidence in the ongoing scandal that China’s gold winning women’s gymnastic girls are just that—girls.

The document, first discovered by a search engine hacker who goes by the alias of stryde.hax lists birthdates and hometowns for hundreds of China’s gymnasts.

The document, a spreadsheet titled “2006 Nationwide Gymnastics Registration Table,” is dated February 20,

A cached document, which has been removed from the website of China’s official sports administration, reads in line 1040 (with column headers in brackets), “[name] He Kexin, [gender] female, [born] 1994-1-1, [hometown], [registering organization] Wuhan City.” (The Epoch Times)A cached document, which has been removed from the website of China’s official sports administration, reads in line 1040 (with column headers in brackets), “[name He Kexin, [gender] female, [born] 1994-1-1, [hometown], [registering organization] Wuhan City.” (The Epoch Times)”]

2006 and lists two members of China’s women’s gymnastics, Yang Yilin and He Kexin, as being only 14 years old. To compete, a gymnast is required to turn 16 in the year the Games are held.

Epoch Times has unearthed similar document for 2005 on the same government server through Baidu cache, which also indicated same birthdates for He and Yang showing them 14 this year.

The two gymnasts claimed four medals in total. He Kexin won a gold in the uneven bars and Yang won bronze medals in the uneven bars and in the overall individual competition. Both gymnasts were also part of China’s gold medal winning women’s team.

According to the document, He Kexin’s birthday is January 1, 1994, while Yang Yilin’s birthday is Aug 26, 1993, making her 15 next week.

The cached document, which has been removed from the website of China’s official sports administration, reads in line 811 (with column headers in brackets): “[name] Yang Yilin, [gender] female, [born] 1993-8-26, [hometown] Guangdong Province, Guangzhou City, [registering organization] Guangdong Province, [notes] confirmed.”

And on line 1040: “[name] He Kexin, [gender] female, [born] 1994-1-1, [hometown], [registering organization] Wuhan City.”

The incriminating document was found in the Baidu search engine’s cache. Baidu bills itself as China’s own search engine, and is widely used there. The original document has been removed from http://www.sport.gov.cn/ , a server run by the General Administration of Sport of China.

When contacted by the Epoch Times, a BOCOG Legal Department representative denied the allegations. The General Office, Sports Department and Media and Communications branches of BOCOG could not be reached for a comment.

By removing the document, it appears that someone has attempted to bury the evidence. Indeed, if these documents are accurate, then China’s Communist regime has issued passports to the girls with fake birth dates, allowing them to compete illegally.

Hacker stryde.hax claims to have repeated the search on Google and have found the same document, absent He Kexin’s name. The Epoch Times repeated the search on Google hours later with no results.

“Google’s cached copy of the spreadsheet does not contain He Kexin’s age record, and Baidu’s does,” said stryde.hax in a blog post. “This does not necessarily imply that Google allowed its data to be rewritten by Chinese censors, but the possibility does present itself.”

Google’s New York office has not responded to repeated phone calls and emails from the Epoch Times.

This latest document affirms previous media reports of the athletes’ birth dates. The Epoch Times has found these same birth dates in several state-run media reports and on other government websites  – for example a now-removed article on the Xinhua news agency website dated Nov. 3, 2007, which is still accessible via the Google cache.

A web search on Baidu.com, entering the names and birthdates provided by this document, yields further references.

Attention will now be focused on how the IOC responds to these accusations, which involve an apparent breach of the Olympic Charter. The discovery of the document has become a hot discussion topic on Slashdot.org, a popular technology website.

Following these reports, the IOC has now asked the International Gymnastics Federation to investigate the ages of the Chinese gymnasts.

At the time of writing, the document in question is still on Baidu’s cache of the original page.

For the original page (now removed) click here.
For the Baidu cache click here.

- Original: The epochtimes

China’s internal police documents reveal strategy with foreign journalists: RSF


Reporters Without Borders, 21 August 2008-

Although Chinese police have attacked or manhandled around 10 foreign journalists since the start of the Beijing games, they were told not to obstruct the international press in directives sent to police stations at the end of July, of which Reporters Without Borders has obtained a copy. These directives nonetheless clearly instruct them to investigate the Chinese who talk to the foreign media, and another directive on 7 August (also obtained by Reporters Without Borders) orders them to deal quickly with religious demonstrations.

“The rules for the foreign press adopted in January 2007 were simple and explicit – freedom of movement and freedom to interview,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Chinese police documents obtained by Reporters Without Borders show that the police were indeed ordered to let foreign journalists work, but they were also ordered to investigate the Chinese who told them embarrassing things.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The recent arrests of Chinese who wanted to stage demonstrations or express themselves during the Olympic Games were examples of this desire on the part of the authorities to target their own citizens rather than the thousands of foreign journalists.”

Reporters Without Borders is releasing three Chinese police documents on official strategy towards the foreign media. While the aim of these documents is to ensure that the thousands of accredited foreign journalists in Beijing are free to conduct interviews, they also ask the police to prevent non-accredited journalists from working and above all to investigate the Chinese who talk to the press. This suggests there could be reprisals after the games, when all the journalists have gone.

Dated 25 July and entitled “Four directives for handling foreign journalists,” the first document asks the police not to block their camera lenses (1), not to damage their equipment (2), not to confiscate their memory cards (3) and not to investigate when they are involved in minor offences (4).

Reporters Without Borders knows of several cases in which these directives were clearly violated. Uniformed officers physically prevented Hong Kong journalists from filming a crowd getting out of hand during the sale of tickets for the games on 25 July. Reporter John Ray of Britain’s ITN was arrested by Beijing police officers while covering a demonstration by pro-Tibet activists on 13 August. He was forcibly restrained for 20 minutes although he identified himself as journalist, while his cameraman was prevented from filming the arrest of the protesters.

Police destroyed material and equipment of a photographer with the London-based Guardian newspaper. And in Xinjiang, Associated Press photographers were forced to delete the photos they had taken.

The second document is entitled “Eight directives for not intervening when a foreign journalist is interviewing a Chinese.” It tells police not to intervene if the journalist is accredited (1), if the journalist is not accredited but is not asking political questions (2), if the person agrees to be interviewed (3), if the journalist asks about a third country (4), at news conferences given by foreign organisations that have permission (5), if the journalist is asking about sensitive matters but the interviewee is not causing people to gather and disrupt public order (6), if the interviewee talks about subjects such as Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan and Falun Gong or criticises the Party or government but is not behaving outrageously (7), if a journalist photographs or films policemen without disrupting their work (8).

As regards point 7, the directive tells the police to “speak to the interviewee in accordance with Chinese legislation and to follow and monitor the journalist.” There have been more than ten cases of Chinese being arrested after trying to alert international public opinion to abuses they have suffered. Two Beijing women in their late 70s were sentenced to a year of reeducation through work on 17 August for asking permission to demonstrate during the games, while Zhang Wei, a former resident of Beijing’s Qianmen district, was arrested on 9 August after complaining to foreign journalists about the way she was rehoused.

Reporters Without Borders has seen that, during protests by Christian or pro-Tibet foreigners in Beijing, the authorities prefer to let police disguised as young patriots or members of civilian surveillance groups intervene rather than directly arrest the demonstrators.

At the same time, the public security department’s campaign to intimidate Beijing human rights activists before the Olympic Games enabled the authorities to sideline these spokesmen for social, religious and political demands. More than 40 of them were put under house arrest, forced to leave Beijing or forced to go into hiding for fear of reprisals.

The third document is an analysis by the Criminal Affairs Bureau of three incidents involving pro-Tibet activists, Christians and a delinquent. Directives tell the police that the priority is to carry out a thorough investigation and avoid bad publicity. The Criminal Affairs Bureau recommends arresting foreign demonstrators and deporting them as quickly as possible. The police are told to do everything possible to “depoliticise” their actions by stressing the public order consequences to the public.

Point 4 of the directives tells the Beijing police to deal with “religious cases as quickly as possible.” They are told to “keep the crowd at a distance, devise all sorts of ploys to defuse the situation and immediately inform the Religious Affairs Department.”

Read the directives on www.rsf.org

Retired Professor Arrested in Pre-Olympic Purge in East China for Printing Underground Newsletters


Falun Dafa Information Center (FDIC), 21 Aug 2008 -

New York—As Olympic sailing competitions continue in Qingdao, a retired professor and his wife face imminent sentencing in nearby Jinan for practicing Falun Gong and printing underground leaflets. Official documents obtained by the Falun Dafa Information Center (FDIC) corroborate the detention of the elderly couple, who remain at risk of severe abuse in custody.

Mr. Zhang Xingwu, a 67-year-old retired physics professor at Jinan Normal University, and his wife, Ms. Pinjie Liu were arrested from their home on July 16, 2008.

“More than twenty policemen broke into my parents’ home in Shandong province, ransacked the house, [took] computer equipment and large amounts of money, and abducted my parents,” says Zhang Shuangying, a nurse residing in New York.

“My mother had a stroke in custody that night, which paralyzed the left side of her body, so they released her the next day. But she was abducted again on August 6. Now she and my father both face prison sentences because they practice Falun Gong and had printed underground newsletters about it.”

Official Documentation and Risk of Torture

According to Zhang, Ms. Liu was released only after her son paid the police 10,000 yuan (approximately $1,500). The Falun Dafa Information Center has obtained a copy of the release notice he received at the time, which mentions the payment (document 1).

Two other documents obtained by the Center, complete with the official stamp of the local security agency, further confirm the couple’s arrest (document 2 / document 3). According to one document, Mr. Zhang faces charges of “using a heretical organization to undermine implementation of the law,” a vague provision of the criminal code commonly used to sentence Falun Gong adherents to prison terms of up to 12 years. (see Amnesty International report)

The elderly couple has practiced Falun Gong since 1995 and have been repeatedly detained since the discipline was banned in 1999. From 2001 to 2004, Mr. Zhang spent three years at Jinan Liuchangshan “re-education through labor” (RTL) camp, while Ms. Liu was at Jinan Women’s RTL camp for the same period.

During these previous periods in police custody, the two elderly adherents suffered sleep deprivation, beatings, electric baton shocks, and other forms of torture. Since their most recent detention, family members have been denied access to see them, raising serious concerns that they are again being abused.

Underground Print Shop

Taking advantage of his technological savvy and as part of a nationwide grassroots movement, in recent years, Mr. Zhang operated a site for printing underground newsletters and VCDs from his home. The newsletters included the Minghui Weekly, a collection of articles on Falun Gong and rights abuses committed against its adherents. Also printed were copies of The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, an editorial series published by the overseas Chinese-language Epoch Times newspaper. The series is a critical analysis of the Communist Party’s history ruling China with detailed information on Falun Gong, as well as previous political campaigns, from the 1957 anti-rightist movement to the 1989 massacre. According to a 2005 study by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, websites featuring The Nine Commentaries are one of the most pervasively blocked in China (see “In-state testing results” section of report).

As a result of Zhang’s efforts to disseminate such sensitive information, the local police—who often face punishment or demotion when underground materials are distributed in their area—reportedly viewed him as a key target for arrest in the pre-Olympic purge. According to his daughter, six other local Falun Gong adherents who had distributed materials he prepared were also arrested recently, increasing Zhang’s risk of receiving a long sentence.

According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, since December 2007, over 8,000 Falun Gong adherents have been detained across China. In Beijing alone, at least 200 have been arrested and over 30 sentenced without trial to “re-education through labor” camps for up to 2.5 years (news), marking the worst escalation of the campaign against the group in years.

The FDIC is calling for:

  • Zhang Xingwu and Liu Pingjie’s immediate and unconditional release, as they have been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their fundamental rights to freedom of belief and expression. These rights are enshrined in Articles 35 and 36 of the Chinese Constitution and China’s commitments under international law.
  • The international community to pressure the Chinese authorities to release Zhang and Liu.
  • Foreign media in China to investigate Zhang and Liu’s case and seek to attend their trial should it take place. Their daughter Zhang Shuangying, currently living in New York, is available for interview.

- Original: Urgent Appeal: Retired Professor Arrested in Pre-Olympic Purge for Printing Underground Newsletters