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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘Beijing Olympics’ Category

China: Two Old Women Sentenced to Re-education Through Labor After Applying to Demonstrate in Beijing Olympics “Protest Zones”

Posted by Author on August 21, 2008

Human Rights in China, August 19, 2008-

Human Rights in China has learned that Beijing petitioners Wu Dianyuan (吴殿元) and Wang Xiuying (王秀英) have been ordered to serve a one-year term of Reeducation-Through-Labor (RTL) after repeatedly applying for permits to hold demonstrations in the Beijing “protest zones” during the Olympics. Wu and Wang have both been actively petitioning the government since they were forcibly evicted from their homes in Beijing in 2001.

“Punishing Wu and Wang after they applied for protest permits and actively petitioned the government demonstrates that the official statements touting the new Olympics ‘protest zones,’ as well as the permit application process, were no more than a show,” said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. “The record speaks for itself: in addition to retaliatory actions, despite numerous applications made, no approvals for demonstrations have been reported.”

Wu Dianyuan’s son, Li Xuehui (李学惠), told Human Rights in China that Wu, 79, and Wang, 77, went to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB) Security Administration Unit (北京市公安局治安管理总队) five times between August 5 and August 18 to apply for permits to demonstrate in the newly-designed “protest zones.” The two women, who used to be neighbors, applied to demonstrate against the forced eviction from their homes in 2001. Wu and Wang’s application was neither granted nor denied on each of their five trips to the Security Administration Unit. On August 5, the two were held by PSB officers and interrogated for 10 hours.

On August 17, Wu and Wang each received an RTL decision dated July 30 from the RTL commission of the Beijing Municipal Government (北京市人民政府劳动教养管理委员会). The decisions order them to serve one year of RTL for “disturbing the public order,” from July 30, 2008 to July 29, 2009. The decision states the term will be served outside the RTL camp, but also places restrictions on movement and stipulates that if provisions of the decision or other regulations are violated, they will be sent to the RTL camp.

When Wu and Wang returned to the Security Administration Unit on August 18, they were told by the PSB officers on duty that since they had received the RTL decision the day before, they now had no right to apply for the demonstration protest.

– Original:Two Beijing Residents Sentenced to Reeducation-Through-Labor After Applying for Permits to Demonstrate in Olympics “Protest Zones”

Posted in Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, City resident, Human Rights, Labor camp, Law, News, People, Petitioner, Politics, Protest, Social, Sports, Women, World | Comments Off on China: Two Old Women Sentenced to Re-education Through Labor After Applying to Demonstrate in Beijing Olympics “Protest Zones”

Was Beijing Olympics 2008 a Mistake?

Posted by Author on August 20, 2008

By SPIEGEL Staff, Spiegel Online, Germany, Aug. 12, 2008-

While the world complains about human rights violations, air pollution, censorship and the despotic rule of the Chinese regime, China is celebrating a dream come true. Many in the West are convinced that awarding the Olympics to Beijing was a mistake. Are they right?

A picture is worth a thousand words, but it rarely gives the whole story. These days, a wide range of images are coming out of Beijing. These include crowds of flashy dancers organizing themselves into enormous life-like figures, but also goose-stepping soldiers parading the Chinese flag through the Beijing National Stadium, dubbed the “Bird’s Nest.” We see images of the city smothered in a thick yellow-brown layer of smog, but the cameras never show that the sky can sometimes just be blue. Our televisions flash images of policemen marching in martial formations beneath the Olympic stadium, despite the fact that you’d be hard pressed to actually find them there these days. Apparently, these are images designed to match — and shape — opinions. In reality, they’re all about clichés.

Ironically enough, the most spine-chilling images to come out of the 29th Olympic Games so far have been provided by Chinese state television itself. On Friday morning, the broadcaster transmitted images of foreign dignitaries arriving in front of the monumental Great Hall of the People on an eerily empty Tiananmen Square. The movements of an honor guard in front of the entrance’s huge columns were filmed using a wide-angle lens, which made the images reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda films directed by Leni Riefenstahl. These images, at least, say that it was a mistake to award the Olympics to Beijing. They hearken back to Berlin in 1936. And they say that, once again, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is helping a dictatorship polish its reputation worldwide.

Even eight hours after the Olympics began playing on television screens across the globe, the ominous images failed to get much brighter. Instead of coming across as a joyful celebration of the world’s youth, large portions of the opening ceremony seemed more like a monumental festival thrown by a country celebrating its shining self-image. The images were not those of a country opening up to the world, but rather dazzling symbols of age-old greatness and modern-day power. Organizers dug deep into the costume collection of a 4,000-year-old culture to create teeming cascades of closely coordinated actors, and even China’s minorities were given airtime under the spotlights. But, behind all of this, skeptics could see a repeat performance of old-style communist ceremonial pomp — only using 21st-century props.

Was it a mistake to award the games to China? Should a country that oppresses minorities, operates forced labor camps and suppresses freedom of speech be allowed to bask in the warm glow of the Olympic flame? Were the IOC’s assurances that the country would open up — the grand promise of betting on the emergence of a bit of democracy on the road to these Olympics — nothing more than a devious ruse aimed at securing an appearance on the world’s greatest advertising platform? This seems to be the general consensus of many in the West, and there are definitely majorities in countries — including Germany, the UK, Belgium, Greece, Italy and Spain — that welcome the fact that their own political leaders have decided — more or less as a public protest — not to attend events in Beijing. But that still doesn’t make them right.

A Matter of Cultural Interpretation

Whether deliberately or not, by hosting the Olympic Games, China has allowed more freedom in public than it has at any other point in its history. There are over 20,000 accredited foreign journalists in the country, thousands of athletes and officials, tens of thousands of tourists from Western democracies and a few daredevil protesters who have used the occasion to scale power poles and unfurl “Free Tibet” banners in the heart of the Chinese capital.

Athletes also protested last week, wrote open letters, communicated appeals from abroad to China. All over the world, experts are talking openly about these issues. On talk shows and in parliamentary debates worldwide, China is the hot topic, and some of this finds its way back to the country. Encounters between locals and visitors in Beijing will also have an effect. Chinese society is changing, and this process consists of many tiny adjustments, thousands of fragments that can coalesce to form a new mosaic.

Simple images fail to accurately portray this situation. This explains why so much of what we see appears to be so stereotypical. It also shows that, when faced with such a daunting array of contradictory material, the media has chosen to admit defeat. Western — and German — television frequently shows images of pagodas, despite the fact that there are hardly any left among the skyscrapers’ shadows. When it comes down to it, China might not be terribly eager to open up to the rest of the world, but the reverse is also true: By constantly reproducing its favorite images of the country, both positive and negative, the world has also insulated itself from the real China.

Take, for example, the throng of sports reporters and special correspondents from around the world, many of whom are traveling to China for the first time. Being so new to the country, they tend to misinterpret their first impressions. This unfamiliarity has even led some German newspapers to report that Beijing has somehow been transformed into a city of fear during the games. At the Main Press Center on the Olympic Green, the rumor mill is working at full speed, and even the tiniest novelties are put to use in hectically typed headlines.

Is it really newsworthy that American bicycle racers wore respiratory masks when they arrived in Beijing? Is it important that a swimmer has circulated a nude photo of herself in Beijing to protest against the fur industry? And are the pole climbers sincerely interested in fighting for the Tibetan cause, or could they also be partially motivated by a desire for their own 15 minutes of fame, which has become so easy to win these days in Beijing?

Appearance and Reality

These days, Beijing seems a little strange. To improve the air quality, half the cars are not allowed on the streets, which has resulted in smoothly flowing traffic on the beltway instead of the customary gridlock. Volunteer workers are stationed at every corner and intersection, rushing forward to greet all foreigners and put their broken English to the test. They have been told to keep their eyes and ears open to spot terrorists trying to secretly infiltrate the city. Of course, it’s easy to write these harmless stewards off as government thugs — as long as you never speak with them. But the fact is that these workers — all 400,000 of them — are proud. They want to be part of the Olympic family and part of the dream now coming true in China.

On the one hand, no one doubts that, in the months preceding the games, the Chinese security apparatus thoroughly scanned the entire city. Video cameras have been installed on every corner and the security level is high. These days, it’s safe to say that any country would take similar precautions. On the other hand, the mood in Beijing has in fact been predominantly one of cheerfulness. People throw small Olympics parties brimming with local and national pride. Children’s choirs sing in neighborhood centers, and small red flags can be seen fluttering all over the city.

But if you’re inclined to ask what might be wrong with this picture, one place to look might be Tiananmen Square. In a free country, there’s no doubt that a place like this would be an Olympic venue, a place to hold colorful celebrations with people from around the world, a place crowded with large screens, beer stands and all kinds of booths. But, these days, the square is empty.

– Original: spiegel

Posted in Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, Human Rights, News, Opinion, Politics, Social, Sports, World | Comments Off on Was Beijing Olympics 2008 a Mistake?

China to show propaganda Tibet opera at Olympics

Posted by Author on August 20, 2008

Jane Macartney in Beijing, The Times Online, UK, August 20, 2008-

“This is a wedding. It’s a festive occasion. Look happy, much happier. Do that scene again and this time let’s really feel your joy. Move the audience …”

The famed Peking Opera director Gao Mukun barked out his orders to the chastened cast of a show timed as a finale for the Beijing Olympics.

The Tibetan performers hooted with delight and kept their smiles in place for the last scene of Princess Wencheng — a joint Peking and Tibetan opera that will play in the Chinese capital for three days this week.

A decision to perform the tale of the marriage between a Chinese princess and a Tibetan king in the 7th century just when Beijing is playing host to visitors from around the world does not look like a coincidence.

The issue of Tibet marred Chinese plans for a triumphant Olympic torch relay around the world when international activists demanding independence for the Himalayan region seized the opportunity to draw attention to their cause by disrupting parades in cities from London to San Francisco.

They accused China of crushing dissent, while Beijing said that it exercised restraint after ugly riots by angry Tibetans in the capital, Lhasa, left 22 people dead, most of them ethnic Han Chinese.

The director was at pains to emphasise that the opera, a unique blend of two utterly different styles, was being staged on its artistic merits and not for its political undertones. “This is a work of art, not a lesson. Its aim is both to move the audience and to educate them.”

The slight, bespectacled Mr Gao, in his youth the star of one of the Cultural Revolution’s model operas commissioned by Madame Mao, has been involved in the project, the first of its kind, from the start.

He designed the first performance in Lhasa in 2005 to mark the 40th anniversary of the designation of Tibet as an autonomous region of China. He was not sure that two such different forms of opera could be combined. He is pleased with the results.

“Now you can say this is a perfect marriage between these two art forms just as the marriage of Princess Wencheng and King Songtsen Gampo was a marriage between the Chinese and Tibetan peoples.”

The opera was first commissioned by Zhou Enlai, the Prime Minister, as a propaganda tool to help Tibetans to appreciate Beijing’s rule after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese domination in which Tibet’s god-king, the Dalai Lama, fled into exile in India.

It did not go down too well in those days, and still fails to resonate with many Tibetans who believe that the region already had a civilisation before the Chinese princess arrived in 640.

The Tibetan singer playing King Songtsen Gampo praised the creativity that brought together two very different types of opera for the Olympics: “This is a chance to publicise Tibetan opera, which we don’t have so many opportunities to show to the world and to foreigners.”

Some of his fellow performers who have travelled from Lhasa are less circumspect.

Asked if he was happy to be in the show, one man replied: “What choice do I have? It wasn’t so popular among all people in Tibet.”

Making a song and a dance

— The traditional Peking Opera repertoire has more than 1,000 works, mostly accounts of political struggles

— A modern Peking opera, Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, was one of eight plays authorised during the Cultural Revolution

— In 1998 China blocked the transport of six tonnes of sets, costumes and props of the 1598 opera Peony Pavilion to New York

Original: The Times Online

Posted in Beijing Olympics, China, Culture, News, People, Politics, Social, Sports, SW China, Tibet, World | Comments Off on China to show propaganda Tibet opera at Olympics

Popular Athlete Liu Xiang’s Hurdle Exit Raising Questions of China’s Cover-Ups

Posted by Author on August 20, 2008

By Neil Campbell, Epoch Times Staff, Aug 19, 2008 –

The withdrawal of China’s most popular and most hyped athlete, 110 meter hurdles champion Liu Xiang, is raising many questions in the Chinese community whether or not Liu’s injury was known before race day, and whether or not his withdrawal moments before the event was a well-planned maneuver to sell tickets and focus the interest of the Chinese community on the Olympics.

Many Chinese analysts suspect that the most likely cause of Liu’s breakdown is a combination of the enormous pressure placed on him by the Chinese regime to win the gold and the enormous mental pressure of his sponsorship contracts and fame.

Last year in a press conference, Liu’s coach Sun Haiping said, “Leaders told us that, if Liu Xiang could not win the gold medal in Beijing, all of his achievements before will be meaningless.”

After winning the gold in the 2004 Athens Games, Liu’s face was plastered all over China in commercials and numerous corporate sponsorships such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Visa, Cadillac and Lenovo. In the Chinese sports circle, Liu’s fame can only be contested by NBA star Yao Ming.

In an interview with the UK’s Telegraph, Liu’s former coach Gu Baogang revealed that Liu had been injured during training as late as July.

“He never had any injuries before he hurt his foot in June,” Gu said. “But that injury was not too bad. After the Bird’s Nest was finished, he trained in the stadium in July and hurt his foot again.”

Gu also commented on the pressure Liu was facing. “Liu Xiang has no freedom in China…He is respected and loved, but he leads a really boring life and cannot go out much,” Gu said.

“He feels more relaxed when he races outside China. It would be better if he was in an environment that is more like a foreign country, with less attention.

“He is the only competitive athlete in China’s track and field team so he has been under constant pressure, including from the high hopes of government officials.”

According to a Chinese internet forum, a poster under the alias “NIKEinsider” states that injuries weren’t the only thing burdening Liu. The insider gave a detailed account of how Liu Xiang had been preoccupied with sponsorship activities and advertising opportunities one after another, and thus had little time for intensive training.

It continued to say that this led to Liu’s physical condition no longer meeting high-level competitive standards, and that plans were made to have Liu quit the race to save both his own face, and that of his sponsors.

According to reports, Liu Xiang was not at the Opening Ceremony so he could save his strength and energy. Chinese media reported that he did not join the Olympic Village until Aug. 16, and it wasn’t until Aug. 17 that Liu began to appear inside the National Stadium.

This news led several other Chinese internet posters to raise questions about possible behind-the-scenes control of the situation by the Chinese Communist Party. “Liu Xiang has the ability to attend the competition. If he has to quit, it should have been announced beforehand. They should not wait until the competition had started. This is not Liu Xiang’s fault. He indeed has injuries. But everything can be announced earlier,” said one poster.

“Why was there no announcement and instead, there was so much promotional effort to hype it up? Did they do this to sell more tickets?” they asked.

China’s 90,000 seat National Stadium, also known as the “Bird’s Nest,” was running at over 90 percent capacity for the 110 meter hurdles preliminary heat. When Liu Xiang had to withdraw from the race, more than 60 percent of that audience left immediately, showing obvious signs of disappointment and tears.

Sponsors certainly had a lot invested in Liu Xiang’s performance. Ding Bangqing, deputy Chairman of the Board for the Guangdong Advertising Company told Dongnan Newsflash newspaper, “Liu Xiang’s withdrawal will definitely negatively impact the profit and operation of the sponsor companies. Since the pricing of Liu Xiang’s advertisement is at least 10 million yuan, and considering that many companies use Liu in the advertisement, I personally think the loss of Liu this time will be over 100 million yuan, while for those sponsors, the losses will be over 3 billion yuan.”

As of August 18, there have been reports that both a Lenovo ad featuring Liu and a Visa ad referring to Liu’s world record which he won in Switzerland 2006 that says “Refresh the Dream, 12.88 seconds,” have been cancelled.

– Original: Liu Xiang’s Exit Raising Questions of Cover-Ups, The Epochtimes

Posted in Athlete, Beijing, Beijing Olympics, Business, China, Company, Incident, News, People, Politics, Sports, World | Comments Off on Popular Athlete Liu Xiang’s Hurdle Exit Raising Questions of China’s Cover-Ups

Beijing Olympics: China blocks all protest requests, detained some applicants

Posted by Author on August 20, 2008

By Richard Spencer in Beijing, The Telegraph, UK, 18 Aug 2008-

According to official figures released through state media in China, 149 people in total submitted the 77 applications, including three foreigners.

But despite their hope that they would for the first time be able to make a political point against the Chinese government legally and under the eyes of the world, the three parks which had been set aside for the purpose remain empty.

A police spokesman said that while 77 applications were put forward, of these 74 “were properly addressed by relevant authorities or departments through consultations” and had been withdrawn.

This usually means that complaints against officials over corruption, land confiscation and other local issues have been referred back to the very authorities that are subject of complaint.

Two had been “suspended” because they did not follow proper procedures – one because the applicants wanted to include children, who are not allowed to participate. The final application was “vetoed” by the public security bureau – Beijing’s police headquarters – because it was “in violation of China’s law on demonstrations and protests”.

It was stipulated in advance that protests could not violate “national, social and collective interests” – likely to rule out many major causes such as autonomy for Tibet, or greater democracy.

The promise of protest zones, intended as a sop to complaints over China’s human rights record, has caused some of the bitterest rows between international media and the Beijing and International Olympic Committees. Inquiries to the Beijing Olympic committee have been repeatedly referred to police without success.

“To date, what had been announced publicly doesn’t appear, in reality, to be happening, and a number of questions are being asked,” said Giselle Davies, chief spokesman of the IOC. “The IOC is keen to see those questions answered by the relevant authorities.”

Human Rights Watch and other groups claim that several of those who have tried to submit applications were subsequently detained by police and have not been seen since.

Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher for HRW, said the Olympics had set back the development of human rights in China.

“The Games have not helped, they have actually slowed down work that was progressing and increased abuses,” he said.

Meanwhile, an American Christian group staged a brief sit-in in Kunming airport in the south-west of the country after having 315 bibles taken from them by customs officials. Chinese law bans proselytising, but allows one bible per person for personal use.

– Original: Beijing Olympics: Chinese police block all protests , The Telegraph

Posted in Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Law, News, Politics, Social, Sports, World | Comments Off on Beijing Olympics: China blocks all protest requests, detained some applicants

Eutelsat Should Restore the Independant Chinese TV Broadcasting to China Today: RSF

Posted by Author on August 19, 2008

Reporters Without Borders, Aug. 18, 2008-

Reporters Without Borders has written to Giuliano Berretta, the head of the French satellite company Eutelsat, urging him to resume transmission of the Chinese-language television station NTDTV on his W5 satellite and thereby respect the principles of equal access, pluralism and non-discrimination enshrined in article 3 of the convention that governs Eutelsat’s operations.

Eutelsat’s W5 satellite stopped carrying the Asia broadcasts of NTDTV and three Mandarin radio stations, including Sound of Hope, after reporting a technical incident on 16 June.

The Chinese government has often criticised NTDTV’s programmes about the human rights situation in China and there are grounds for suspecting that Eutelsat’s suspension of its broadcasts is not due solely to a technical problem.

In addition to the statements of a Eutelsat employee in China confirming that the Chinese government had been pressuring the company, Reporters Without Borders has obtained new information indicating that Eutelsat would be technically capable of restoring NTDTV’s broadcasts to Asia today, thereby ending a crisis that has damaged Eutelsat’s credibility.

“One of your clients, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which handles the broadcasts of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, has just withdrawn from W5,” the letter says. “This therefore leaves sufficient capacity on one of the transponders, C2, for restoring NTDTV. In fact, in July, BBG was using your satellite to broadcast five TV stations and 12 radio stations to Asia.”

A BBG spokesperson has confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that none of their broadcasts have been carried by this Eutelsat satellite since 1 August. So how, when room has been freed up on one of W5’s transponders, can Eutelsat continue to insist that it is impossible to resume broadcasting of NTDTV?

Eutelsat claims that four of the satellite’s transponders, including C4 and C6, had to be turned off to allow the other 20 to keep going. But Reporters Without Borders has learned that the C6 transponder has been used again for transmission, although reports about the 16 June incident by Eutelsat-Thales Alenia Space (the satellite’s constructor) said this would not be possible.

NTDTV representatives always get the same answer from Eutelsat: “We cannot resume broadcasting for technical reasons. Contact our competitors.” A Eutelsat release on 11 July said that, because of the 16 June incident, it would not be possible to get the four transponders running again.

Why is Eutelsat refusing to broadcast NTDTV and three radio stations although some of the transponders that were turned off in June have again been used?

“With the Olympic Games taking place in China, it is vital that Chinese TV viewers should have the possibility of accessing independent news and information,” the letter adds. “We therefore urge you now to take the necessary measures so that NTDTV broadcasts are again transmitted by the W5 satellite. The many protests by the station’s viewers demonstrate its utility and importance”, concluded Reporters Without Borders in its letter addressed to Giuliano Berretta.

– Original: Reporters Without Borders

Posted in Beijing Olympics, censorship, China, Europe, Freedom of Information, Human Rights, Incident, Media, News, NTDTV, Politics, Press freedom, Speech, Sports, TV / film, World | Comments Off on Eutelsat Should Restore the Independant Chinese TV Broadcasting to China Today: RSF

China cracking down on dissent during Olympics: activists

Posted by Author on August 19, 2008

AFP, Aug. 18, 2008-

BEIJING (AFP) — China has cracked down on dissent for the Olympic Games and failed to honour public pledges to allow broader freedoms during the event, human rights groups and dissidents said.

China promised to improve the human rights situation in the country when it was awarded the Games in 2001 and said it would grant broad freedoms for foreign media to cover the event unhindered.

But 10 days into the event, the foreign media continues to complain about restrictions, would-be protesters have been detained, activists who disappeared before the Games have not resurfaced and dissidents have been harassed.

Nicholas Bequelin, China researcher for Human Rights Watch, said it was clear the Games had been detrimental to China’s overall human rights situation.

“The Games have not helped, they have actually slowed down work that was progressing and increased abuses,” he said.

“The approach that Beijing chose for the preparation of the Games was to suppress any critical voices and to prevent these voices from finding an echo in the international media.”

The government, which routinely bans demonstrations, set up three official protest zones in Beijing parks in a bid to display openness for the Games.

However the protests zones have been largely empty and several people who tried to demonstrate have found themselves in trouble.

Zhang Wei, a Beijing resident who has been trying to get compensation for the demolition of her house, is now serving 30 days in custody for ‘disturbing public order’ after applying for permission to protest, her son Mi Yu said.

“They made that annoucement for the outside world, but within the country, they repress people,” Mi, 23, told AFP by phone.

The 75-year-old mother of Hai Mingyu, an entrepreneur who managed to briefly unfurl a banner in Ritan Park, one of the protest zones, was detained for six hours in Beijing on Wednesday and questioned about her son’s protest.

Lawyers and activists working with dissidents have also reported increased harassment leading up to the Games in what they see as a deliberate attempt to muzzle them,

Zeng Jinyan, the wife of prominent human rights activist Hu Jia, who was jailed for more than three years in April for ‘inciting subversion against the state,’ went missing the day before the start of the Olympics.

“It’s clear that it’s because of the Olympic Games, because we lost contact just before the beginning of the Games,” Hu’s lawyer Li Fangping told AFP.

Li himself, a prominent human rights lawyer, said he had decided to leave Beijing at the end of July as the pressure was getting too heavy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Activist, Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, Sports, World | Comments Off on China cracking down on dissent during Olympics: activists

China: Parents of MBA student in US Detained During Beijing Olympics

Posted by Author on August 19, 2008

By Neil Campbell, Epoch Times Staff Aug 17, 2008 –

One month before the Olympic Games, on July 9, Jin Pang said more than a dozen police officers and officials from China’s extra-judicial ‘610 Office’ broke into her parent’s home and confiscated three laptops, two desktop computers, various Falun Gong materials, a digital camera, and bank deposits valued at an estimated $US7000.

On July 29, while visiting a friend, they were arrested and, according to sources, are now being held in Weifang City Detention Centre. Fifty other Falun Gong practitioners were kidnapped in Weifang City around the same time.

The arrests are part of a large-scale campaign that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initiated against Falun Gong practitioners in the lead up to the Olympic Games, according to the Falun Dafa Information Centre (FDI). The FDI have collected information revealing more than 8000 arrests of Falun Gong practitioners in seven months across 29 provinces, 500 of which are from Beijing.

“The Olympic Games should not be an excuse for persecution. Persecuting innocent people severely violates the Olympic spirit and tarnishes the Games,” said Ms Jin, an MBA student at the University of Missouri.

“My parents are kind-hearted people. They treat others well and are respected by colleagues and friends. When friends learned about the news, they were shocked and angry. They cannot believe good people like my father and mother are a target of the CCP’s persecution.” she said in a press release.

This is not the first time her parents have been targeted, Ms Jin said. In 2001, Jin’s mother, Cao Junping, was arrested along with eight other Falun Gong practitioners. They were detained in a cold cement cell that was less than nine square meters and beaten by mobs they say were led by the town’s Party leader. The goal was to force them to renounce their practice.

When the beatings did not have the desired outcome for the the Party leader he ordered that the practitioners be tortured with electric batons and spiked clubs. After 11 days of torture, Cao lost her front teeth, the skin all over her body was burned; her legs were covered in bruises and blood. Cao was finally able to return home, but not before the police blackmailed her husband for 2000 RMB (approx. $US300, a monthly wage in that city).

Ms Jin said that although the Chinese regime promised to improve its human rights record when bidding for the Games, the situation has worsened, especially for Falun Gong practitioners. Reports from Amnesty International and other human rights groups agree.

“It is the state machine that is really producing the terror and committing the crimes,” Jin said.

In 2006, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture, Manfred Nowak, reported that Falun Gong practitioners account for 66 percent of victims of torture in custody. The US State Department estimates that practitioners make up at least half of the 250,000 officially recorded inmates in China’s “re-education-through labour” camps.

Ms Jin said that while the Games continue, people should not forget the suffering that millions of Falun Gong practitioners are enduring in China.

– Original: Parents Detained During Olympics

Posted in Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, Falun Gong, Freedom of Belief, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Religion, Religious, Social, Sports, USA, World | Comments Off on China: Parents of MBA student in US Detained During Beijing Olympics

Protesters hang Free Tibet banner on the wall of China state TV headquarters

Posted by Author on August 19, 2008

With the help of three support people, two pro-Tibet activists rapelled from the top of a large Olympic

Free Tibet banner in front of Chinese state television’s new headquarters in Beijing

Free Tibet banner in front of Chinese state television’s new headquarters in Beijing

billboard and unfurled a 375 square foot/115 square meter banner in front of Chinese state television’s new headquarters in Beijing early this morning.

The activists dropped the banner, which read “Free Tibet” in English and Chinese, over an Olympics billboard reading “Beijing 2008” at 5:45 am Beijing time. Chinese security officials gathered quickly outside the China Central Television (CCTV) building. After approximately 30 minutes, officials detained the five activists. The activists have all been deported and are safely back in their home countries.

The two climbers were Nicole Rycroft, 41, a Canadian-Australian from Vancouver, BC, Canada and Philip Kirk, 24, a British citizen from Hertfordshire, UK. They were supported by Americans Bianca Bockman, 27, from Hoboken, New Jersey, Sam Maron, 22, from Ossining, New York, and Kelly Osborne, 39, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA. See more detailed bios on website.

– Original:

Posted in Activist, Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, Human Rights, News, People, Politics, Religion, Social, Sports, Tibetan, World | Comments Off on Protesters hang Free Tibet banner on the wall of China state TV headquarters

China’s mask of lies

Posted by Author on August 18, 2008

By Fiona McIntosh, The Mirror, UK, 17/08/2008-

Much as I’m enjoying the Olympics at the moment (well, it’s hardly barbecue weather) they’re leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

Take the story this week of little Lin Miaoke, who belted out the Chinese anthem in the opening ceremony. Except, it wasn’t her, it was another girl, Yang Peiyi, whose voice was dubbed in at the 11th hour.

Yang didn’t get the gig because her teeth, like most seven-year-olds’, are wonky.

Erupting incisors are not part of the great Chinese plan for perfection. Or, as one of the flunkeys explained, “the child on the camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings and expression”.

Binned for being too ugly – that’s a tough lesson to learn at seven. But looking around the Bird’s Nest stadium, creepy perfection is a common Chinese theme. Where are the cheering hordes of ordinary Chinese in the audience? Are they too ugly, too? In some events you can hear the distant roar of Free Tibet protesters, but like little Yang’s face, that issue is too ugly for the cameras.

China does appear to be moving towards democracy. It wasn’t so long ago that student activists were shot for their beliefs and baby girls were left to die in the gutter, victims of the One Child Policy.

But with all the smoke and mirrors around this Olympics, it doesn’t make us think how wonderful the New China is – just what else it is hiding.

– Original: The Mirror

Posted in Beijing Olympics, China, News, Opinion, People, Politics, Sports, World | Comments Off on China’s mask of lies

China: Empty seats are a mystery at Beijing Olympics

Posted by Author on August 18, 2008

Organizers say events are sold out despite appearances. One possible explanation is that Chinese bought cheap tickets but aren’t using them.

By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, USA, August 17, 2008-

BEIJING — Tickets were in such short supply for Friday night’s field hockey match between Australia and Pakistan that some relatives of players couldn’t get any, and those who did had to fork over as much as $130 apiece. At the box office, clerks told disappointed ticket seekers that the game was “sold out.”

But inside the 17,000-seat Olympic Green Hockey Stadium, the stands were a sea of blue — the color of the rows and rows of empty plastic seats. When the game began, only a quarter of the seats were filled, leaving an incredulous Donna Dancer, wife of Australian hockey coach Barry Dancer, to ask, “Where have all the tickets gone?”

It’s one of the great mysteries of the Beijing Olympics: In what is reportedly the first sold-out Games in Olympic history, many venues are far from full, with the expanses of empty seats giving events a somewhat forlorn appearance.

“Everyone I know wanted tickets; we Chinese love to see sports,” said Mike Ma, 34, a Beijing office worker who scored a field hockey ticket through a German friend because he was unable to buy one in China. “It’s a pity there are so many empty seats. We would like to know who is responsible.”

Demand for the 6.8 million tickets has been crushing. When tickets first went on sale, online ticketing sites around the world crashed because so many people were trying to buy. When the final batch of tickets was offered in July, Chinese fans waited in 90-degree heat for as long as two days to buy them, with near riots breaking out at many locations.

“This is our fourth Olympics, but getting tickets to this one really has been a nightmare,” said Stacey Watson, a 44-year-old Australian, as she watched her country beat Pakistan, 3-1. “Then you get inside and you wonder who got all the tickets, because there is nobody there.”

Dancer, wife of the Australian coach, knows how tough it was to scrape together tickets for the players’ families. She and others spent long nights trying to get through to jammed Internet sites. They called dodgy ticket agencies, scalpers and people they barely knew begging for tickets. About 300 of them finally got tickets, scattered around the stadium.

Not every venue is empty. There have been full houses for swimming and gymnastics finals. The 91,000-seat National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, was packed Saturday for track and field. But at most other events, even table tennis and archery in which the Chinese are strong, the lack of fans is glaringly obvious, especially on TV.

Beijing Olympic organizers initially explained away the empty seats by citing the humid and rainy weather on the first days of the Games. But with the skies clearing, they have begun complaining about tickets that have been purchased but gone unused.

“All the tickets have been sold out; we will be encouraging all the ticket holders to watch the matches themselves,” Wang Wei, executive vice president of the organizing committee, said Friday at a news conference. “If they don’t want to go, they should give the tickets to those who do,”

Empty seats are a chronic problem at the Olympics, where large blocks of the best seats are set aside for sponsors, VIPs and media members who may not use them. The 2004 Athens Games were marked by vast swaths of empty seats.

But Athens was not sold out, and people could buy tickets at the on-site box office. Not so in Beijing. With no same-day tickets available, hundreds of people mill about outside the wire fences that separate the Olympic Green from the street, looking for tickets. Scalpers slink through the crowd, muttering their prices and avoiding police.

On Saturday morning, the cheapest price to see U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly race was $570, for tickets with a face value of $21.

One reason for the shortage is that organizers wanted to make the Games accessible to China’s 1.3 billion people, so they sold more tickets domestically and at lower prices than usual, some for as little as $4. The low prices encouraged people to snap up whatever they could.

But it turns out there weren’t that many people truly prepared to spend their Monday morning watching Mali play New Zealand in women’s basketball.

Also, the custom in Communist China is to attend sporting or cultural events as part of official work outings. Large blocks of empty seats in the cheaper nosebleed sections of the stadiums may have been allocated to state companies that ended up not using them.

From the looks of the stands, the empty seats do not appear to be tickets that were sold in the United States, Australia or Europe, said Mark Lewis, president of Jet Set Sports, the affiliate of CoSport, which was the official sales agent. In the cases where foreigners decided not to go to China, their tickets were returned and resold.

“I know where our seats are. . . . The people who bought our tickets are attending,” Lewis said.

So many foreigners have complained that the Chinese have been busing in rent-a-crowds to lend the stands a festive atmosphere.

“It’s better. Nobody likes an empty stadium,” said Dave Andrews, 27, of Perth, Australia. “But you can tell they’ve just been brought in here to fill the seats. They know nothing about hockey. They cheer at all the wrong times.”

– Original: Los Angeles Times

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China’s new Olympic fakery scandal: 56 so-called ‘ethnic’ children in opening ceremony actually come from Han majority

Posted by Author on August 17, 2008

Jane Macartney and Hannah Fletcher in Beijing, The Times Online, UK, August 16, 2008 –

As they paraded cheerfully into the Bird’s Nest stadium in their brightly coloured cultural costumes, the 56 smiling children were described as coming from China’s 56 ethnic groups.

Their different hats, dresses and robes may indeed have represented the diversity of the world’s most populous nation. But an official from the children’s dance troupe revealed yesterday that the youngsters did not.

There were no Uighurs, no Zhuangs, no Huis, no Tujias, no Mongols and definitely no Tibetans. Indeed, in the latest in a series of manipulations that have soured memories of the spectacular opening ceremony, all 56 were revealed to be Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

The latest example of artifice comes after revelations that some of the fireworks seen by TV audiences in the opening ceremony were computer-generated and that a song was mimed because the child singer was not deemed pretty enough.

“I think you are being very meticulous,” said Wang Wei, vice-president of the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee, trying to brush the latest revelation aside. “It is rather normal and usual for actors and actresses to be dressed in costumes from different ethnic groups. There is nothing special about it.”

But that was not how the official programme announced the Galaxy Children’s Art Troupe. It declared that the children who clustered around the national flag in a show of unity were from all the various ethnic groups.

One Tibetan told The Times: “They all looked like Han Chinese. It was clear to everyone at the start. But I suppose they thought there was too much risk that even a child could make an unacceptable gesture.”

Officials are particularly sensitive about the disclosure after ethnic riots in Tibet in March when 22 people, mostly Han Chinese, were killed, and after three attacks in the westernmost Xinjiang region against security forces by suspected Muslim separatists.

Many Chinese said that the use of the Han children was normal since they were actors. Others said the decision put the spotlight on the cultural dominance of the Han and the unwillingness of the majority ethnic group to tolerate others. The Communist Party is at pains to play down ethnic differences in the Olympic year.

Officials have also confirmed that a leading dancer injured in a rehearsal for the opening ceremony could be paralysed for life.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, ethnic, Human Rights, News, People, Politics, Social, Sports, World | 1 Comment »

IOC Should Investigate the Daily Abuses of Media Freedom happening in China: HRW

Posted by Author on August 17, 2008

Human Rights Watch, August 15, 2008-

(New York, August 15, 2008) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should turn words into action and immediately establish a reporting mechanism for violations of media freedoms in China, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch and other groups have documented many violations of China’s promise to allow press freedom in exchange for hosting the Olympic Games.

On August 14, 2008, the IOC spokesperson, Giselle Davies, ended months of IOC silence by saying that the committee “disapproved of any attempts to hinder a journalist who is going about doing his job seemingly within the rules and regulations.” Over the past year, the IOC has been provided extensive documentation of such abuses, including physical assaults of journalists, but has not publicly spoken about the issue or challenged the Chinese government.

“The IOC’s public expression of concern is welcome, but it won’t have any effect without real action,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The International Olympic Committee’s failure to address this problem highlights the urgent need for mechanisms to prevent further abuses.”

Human Rights Watch has documented almost daily violations of China’s commitment to the IOC to allow the foreign media “complete freedom to report” during the Beijing Games, as stipulated by the Chinese government’s temporary regulations, which allow foreign journalists to speak to “any consenting interviewee” between January 1, 2007 and October 17, 2008 (click here for a list of Chinese officials’ promises and statements made about human rights and the Olympics).

Since the Games opened on August 8, foreign journalists in Beijing have told Human Rights Watch that surveillance and harassment by security personnel has intensified. Those security personnel include plainclothes police, official Olympics volunteers, and Beijing citizens in neighborhood committees who reporters say attempt to deliberately intimidate them and their sources by photographing and video-recording their movements. “Today I was checking one of (Beijing’s) parks and I was followed at times by five people, some of them filming me and taking photos of me. I feel like a target,” a foreign journalist told Human Rights Watch on August 7.

Human Rights Watch said that the IOC should:

* establish a 24-hour hotline in Beijing for foreign journalists to report violations during the course of the games;
* demand that the Chinese government investigate cases of arrests, detentions, and harassment of media and ensure that there will be no further abuses;
* publicly press the Chinese government to disclose the whereabouts of sources who have disappeared after giving interviews to foreign media; and
* investigate all incidents of abuse of foreign journalists and their sources and report on them publicly in China before the opening of the September Paralympics to help avert similar media freedom abuses.

In the past 10 days, Human Rights Watch has documented incidents of abuse of foreign media freedom, including:  Read the rest of this entry »

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RSF: Crackdown on human rights activists continues, journalist attacked by police in China

Posted by Author on August 15, 2008

Reporters Without Borders, 13 August 2008-

The start of the Olympic Games has done nothing to help Chinese human rights activists, who continue to be arrested, watched or threatened. At the same time, incidents involving foreign journalists, including an attack today on a British TV reporter working for ITV, shows that the security services are still preventing the foreign press from working freely.

To illustrate this, Reporters Without Borders today offers the comments of a foreign reporter about surveillance and harassment by the Chinese police.

“In view of the many incidents, we call on the International Olympic Committee to intercede on behalf of the Chinese citizens who are in danger because of the position they have taken during the Olympic Games,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“It is the duty of the Olympic movement in its entirety to ensure respect for the spirit of the Olympic truce,” the organisation added. “Since the origins of the Olympics, tradition has required that peace should prevail during the games.”

The IOC website has this to say about the Olympic truce in ancient Greece: “During the truce period, the athletes, artists and their families, as well as ordinary pilgrims, could travel in total safety to participate in or attend the Olympic Games and return afterwards to their respective countries. (…) The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to revive the ancient concept of the Olympic Truce with the view (…) to encourage searching for peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the conflicts around the world.”

John Ray of the British television news service ITN was today covering a protest by several foreign activists who unfurled a pro-Tibet banner near Beijing’s main Olympic zone, when he was arrested by police, dragged along the ground and forcibly restrained for about 20 minutes although he identified himself as a journalist. “This was an assault in my mind, I am incredibly angry about this,” Ray told Agence France Presse.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) says there have been five incidents since 7 August. In one of these incidents, police arrested two Associated Press reporters in the northwestern province of Xinjiang and erased the photos they had taken. One of them was arrested while watching the opening ceremony on TV. Two Scandinavian journalists were prevented from interviewing peasants in Hebei province about the impact of the games on their activities.

A European journalist who has been working in Beijing for several years has given Reporters Without Borders a gripping description of what it is like for her and her colleagues in Beijing, and the risks run by Chinese who dare to speak to the foreign press.

“They don’t stop following me, filming me and photographing me,” she said. “I think twice before interviewing Chinese about sensitive issues for fear that they could be arrested (…) Last week several Chinese were arrested after giving me interviews. Firstly, people living in the Qianmen district that is in the process of being renovated. They included a woman in charge of an association of evicted residents who sued the government for not paying them enough compensation. The trial began in July but was postponed because of the Olympics. I interviewed her, as other journalists did. Since then she has been detained.

“The same thing happened with the pastor of an unrecognised church. Finally, a British woman of Tibetan origin was arrested and expelled after giving me an interview. Under these circumstances, we are all forced to censor ourselves and to refuse to interview certain Chinese for fear of their being immediately arrested. We are all in this situation of intimidation, which makes it very hard for us to work in China, despite the overall improvements.

“What’s more, the official media have not stopped attacking us since last March’s events in Tibet. In addition to the death threats received by dozens of foreign journalists, the Chinese media try to undermine our credibility. And all of this gained pace in the run-up to the games.”

She is right about Chinese being arrested for talking to the foreign media. Zhang Wei, a former resident of the Beijing district of Qianmen, was arrested on 9 August after filing a request for permission to protest about her family’s eviction two years ago to make way for Olympic construction. The Associated Press quotes her son as saying she is to be held for a month for “disrupting the social order.” The Public Security Bureau said it was looking at her case and had no other comment to make.

Yang Guijing, 75, the mother of a young man who demonstrated in one of the Beijing parks that have been officially designated as protest areas, was arrested on 7 August as she on her way to visit her daughter, and has been held ever since. She did not take part in her son’s demonstration, which was in protest the family’s eviction. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Activist, Beijing, Beijing Olympics, censorship, China, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, Speech, Sports, World | Comments Off on RSF: Crackdown on human rights activists continues, journalist attacked by police in China

China: British Journalist Held, Roughed Up By Police in Beijing

Posted by Author on August 15, 2008

By Jill Drew, Washington Post Foreign Service, Thursday, August 14, 2008-

BEIJING, Aug. 13 — As Beijing police scrambled Wednesday afternoon to whisk away a group of Free Tibet protesters near the Olympic Park, they also detained and roughed up a British reporter attempting to cover the demonstration.

“I was shouting, ‘I’m a British journalist,’ ” John Ray, a correspondent for Britain’s Independent Television News, said later. But police dragged Ray into the back of a nearby restaurant and later bundled him into a police van.

“It was very forceful, very rough,” he said.

The incident is the latest example of a foreign journalist being blocked from reporting in China, despite promises by the government and Olympic officials that the news media would be free to operate during the Games. Several journalists attempting to cover small protests around Beijing have been harassed, photographed and manhandled.

Ray’s Olympic credentials were in his pocket, but he could not reach them because police had pinned his arms behind him, “one guy holding each arm,” he said. The officers pulled off Ray’s shoes, and when he tried to struggle away, they kicked his legs, tripping him.

Five or six officers then “frog-marched” Ray to a police van, he said, and pushed him in, throwing in a yellow cloth behind him before they slammed the doors. His hands now free, Ray fished out his Olympic credentials from his pocket. “One officer asked me in English what were my views of Tibet,” Ray said. “I told him I was a journalist and didn’t have any views.”

He showed the officer his credentials and, after about 20 minutes, was released. “One of our Chinese staff asked why they arrested me, and an officer said, ‘Didn’t you see? He tried to unfurl that banner,’ ” pointing to the yellow cloth they had thrown into the van.

“That is categorically untrue,” Ray said. “I was there merely to report, not to take part in anything. I didn’t have a banner. I didn’t have a T-shirt. I was wearing pretty standard foreign correspondent garb.”

The information office of the Beijing Public Security Bureau did not respond to questions about Ray’s detention. It instead released a statement about the protest, saying eight foreigners who had been “conducting activities against Chinese law” were stopped by police on patrol. It said police would cancel their tourist visas and accompany them until they left the country.

The protest was organized by Students for a Free Tibet, which has succeeded in staging several small-scale demonstrations in Beijing, despite ultra-tight security.

Seven of the eight protesters were American, and one was a Tibetan Japanese woman who lives in Britain, according to Lhadon Tethong, director of Students for a Free Tibet. By Wednesday night, the Americans were en route to Los Angeles, but the whereabouts of the Tibetan Japanese woman were unknown.

– Original: Washington Post

Posted in Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, Media, News, People, Politics, Press freedom, Speech, Sports, TV / film, World | Comments Off on China: British Journalist Held, Roughed Up By Police in Beijing

China Censors make news in public relations battle

Posted by Author on August 14, 2008

Jacquelin Magnay in Beijing,The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, August 14, 2008-

CHINA may be losing the public relations battle to control the international media at the Beijing Games, but within its borders the extensive controls on the local media have been exposed starkly.

A stunningly frank 21-point plan from the propaganda bureau was issued to editors and journalists and orders them to ignore hot international topics and any issues that may reflect negatively on the Olympic Games.

Banned are Tibet, Falun Gong, food safety issues, the three official protest parks and emergencies inside Olympic venues.

The blacklist comes as Chinese security forces assaulted and detained a British journalist yesterday as he was filming a pro-Tibetan rally several hundred metres from the Bird’s Nest stadium.

Independent Television News China correspondent John Ray was dragged along the ground, his hands stamped on and his shoes removed before being detained for a short period after witnessing a pro-Tibetan rally at the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park by Students for a Free Tibet. Six of the students were arrested as they waved Free Tibet banners.

But news of the protest has been blacked out from the mainland Chinese press, as has news of the faked opening ceremony song, the Olympic connections of the murdered American tourist and the actress paralysed in rehearsals for the opening ceremony.

The mainland Chinese journalists have been instructed to use the official Xinhua news agency for stories about diplomatic ties between China and other nations, including Australia.

“Over the diplomatic ties between China and some certain nations, don’t do interviews on your own and don’t use online stories,” the instructions state.

“Instead, adopt Xinhua stories only. Particularly on the Doha round negotiation, US elections, China-Iran co-operation, China-Aussie co-operation, China-Zimbabwe co-operation, China-Paraguay co-operation.”

The journalists have been told that in the event of an emergency involving foreign tourists they must follow the official line.

But “if there’s no official line, stay away from it. Over possible subway accidents in the capital, please follow the official line. Be positive on security measures. There’s also no need to make a fuss about our anti-terror efforts,” the report says.

The eighth point states: “All food safety issues, such as cancer-causing mineral water, is off the limits.”

The 21-point plan was reported in the South China Morning Post, but its existence was denied by the Games organisers. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Beijing, Beijing Olympics, censorship, China, Falun Gong, Human Rights, Media, News, People, Politics, Protest, Social, Sports, Tibetan, World | Comments Off on China Censors make news in public relations battle

China arrests applicants for demonstration in designated “protest zones”

Posted by Author on August 14, 2008

Human Rights Watch, Aug. 13, 2008-

(New York, August 13, 2008) – The Chinese government is detaining a rights activist who applied to demonstrate legally in designated “protest zones” established for the Beijing Olympics, Human Rights Watch said today.

Ji Sizun, 58, a self-described grassroots legal activist from Fujian province, was arrested on August 11, 2008. On August 8, Ji had applied to the Deshengmenwai police station in Beijing’s Xicheng District for a permit to hold a protest in one of the city’s three designated “protest zones.” In his application, Ji stated that the protest would call for greater participation of Chinese citizens in political processes, and denounce rampant official corruption and abuses of power. He was arrested after checking back at the police station on the status of his application, witnesses told Human Rights Watch.

“The Chinese government should immediately release Ji Sizun and anyone else detained by police while trying to exercise their basic rights,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The protest application process clearly isn’t about giving people greater freedom of expression, but making it easier for the police to suppress it.”

Eyewitnesses said Ji entered the police station at around 10:45 a.m. on August 11. At 12:15 p.m., he was escorted out of the building and put into a dark-colored, unmarked Buick by several men who appeared to be plainclothes policemen. Ji managed to make a short call to his family to notify them he had “problems,” but has since disappeared and remains unreachable on his mobile phone.

Public demonstrations critical of the Chinese government routinely reap swift and harsh retribution from state security forces. On July 23, however, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) security director, Liu Shaowu, announced the creation of three protest zones in Beijing parks. He told reporters that: “People or protesters who want to express their personal opinions can go to do so” in line with “common practice in other countries.”

The process, however, is more restrictive than in many countries that use pre-designated protest areas. Applicants must give formal notification at least five days in advance, subject to police approval, which could be withdrawn at any time. Other conditions imposed by the government on the protest zones disqualify the majority of Chinese citizens from even applying for the right to use the areas. Non-Beijing residents are prohibited from protesting. Protests which might harm “national unity” and “national, social or collective interests” are also legally forbidden without any clarification of what might constitute a violation of these broad terms.

The three protest zones have so far remained empty of demonstrators.

“Nobody should confuse the lack of protesters with a lack of complaints,” said Richardson. “The detention and harassment of those who tried to take the government at its word shows the lengths to which the authorities will go to keep people from peacefully expressing their views.”

Other Chinese citizens have attempted to apply for permission and instead been harassed or detained in recent days. They include the following:

* Dr. Ge Yifei, a 48-year-old doctor from Suzhou, was detained in Beijing by Suzhou government officials who had followed her to the capital, where she was attempting to apply for permission to protest about a property dispute in her home town. The officials held Ge for several hours and then forcibly escorted her back to Suzhou.
* Police at Beijing’s Haidian district police station refused to accept an application by Zhang Wei in late July to protest over the demolition of her home for Olympics-related development. On August 12, Zhang’s son Mi Yu told the Associated Press that the district court had sentenced Zhang to a month in prison for “disturbing social order” in connection with a small protest Zhang took part in last week in Beijing’s Qianmen district with around 20 of her former neighbors.
* Representatives of parents wanting to protest in Beijing about the deaths of their children in the May 12 Sichuan earthquake were intercepted at Chengdu airport by police who “tore up their (airline) tickets,” the Washington Post reported on August 6.
* Beijing police arrested Tang Xuecheng in early August when he applied for permission to protest local corruption in his native Hunan province, The Australian newspaper reported on August 12.

Human Rights Watch said these incidents are occurring against a backdrop of intensifying official reprisals against Chinese citizens who are critical of the government in interviews with foreign journalists, and of strict police surveillance of prominent dissidents and activists in Beijing. ……

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Activist, Beijing, Beijing Olympics, China, Human Rights, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, Sports, World | 1 Comment »

China: The land of communist phonies

Posted by Author on August 14, 2008

Jonathan Kay, The National Post, Canada, Aug. 13, 2008-

Holden Caulfield, call your office. I have discovered the promised land of phoniness.

During Friday’s opening ceremonies in Beijing, a 9-year-old girl named Lin Miaoke sang a ballad to a packed stadium and a billion television viewers. But the voice coming out of our TV sets wasn’t hers. It belonged to a 7-year-old girl named Yang Peiyi.

The Communist Party decided Peiyi had the better voice, buy Miaoke was better looking — so they created a phony hybrid of the two. “The reason was for the national interest,” said Chen Qigang, general music designer of the opening ceremonies. “The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feeling and expression.”

Only in communist China is being phony considered a “national interest.”

And humiliating children in front of a sixth of the world’s population just the tip of the iceberg. In the People’s Republic, this sort of phoniness goes on all the time.

Gymnasts competing in Beijing are required to be at least 16. The average size on the 6-girl Chinese gymnast squad is 4’-9” and 77 pounds — 30 pounds lighter than the average for the American team. The smallest Chinese girl weighs just 68 pounds.

Does that sounds like a teenager two years away from adulthood? As one former Olympic gymnastics coach put it: “We know what a 16-year-old should look like. They should not look like they are seven and maybe still in diapers.”

Oh, and it turns out the lip-sync wasn’t the only fraudulent thing about the opening ceremonies. The purportedly spectacular fireworks broadcast for the world’s benefit were cobbled together with digital video effects — a cheap Hollywood trick that’s as phony as Lin Miaoke’s rendition of Ode to the Motherland.

In fact, Beijing itself has been turned into a sort of giant shrine to phoniness.

Three-meter high “culture walls” have been erected in front of shabby neighborhoods, to block tourists’ view of the undesirables. In other cases, crumbling buildings have been hastily covered with phony facades. All of Beijing’s female meeters and greeters are pretty things in their 20s. In China’s Potemkin world, surrounding tourists with women who are young and hot — oops, sorry, I mean “flawless in image, internal feeling and expression” — is very much “in the national interest.”

The city was shamelessly phony even before it got the Olympics: When IOC officials came to evaluate the location in 2001, the government sprayed thousands of gallons of green paint on dead brown grass.

You have to be a giant phony to even think about doing something like that.

Phony tykes, phony gymnasts, phony lawns, phony buildings. If the Beijing organizers were looking for a theme, I guess they’ve found one.

– Original: The National Post, Canada

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Olympic bosses defend faked ceremony song, Chinese news of lip-synching censored

Posted by Author on August 14, 2008

AFP, Aug. 13, 2008-

BEIJING (AFP) — Olympic organisers on Wednesday defended a decision to fake a key part of the Games opening ceremony, as China enforced a virtual media blackout on the lip-synching controversy.

Nine-year-old Lin Miaoke became a celebrity in China after she “sang” a patriotic ballad in front of 91,000 people and a television audience of over one billion during last week’s spectacular show.

But it later emerged the real voice belonged to chubby seven-year-old Yang Peiyi, who was deemed not attractive enough to go on stage, and that the switch was ordered by a politburo member of China’s ruling Communist party.

Wang Wei, vice president of the Beijing Olympic organising committee, said an artistic decision was made by the producers of the ceremony and that he did not believe it was unethical.

“I do not see there is anything wrong with it,” he said.

International Olympic Committee executive director Gilbert Felli also defended the use of a more photogenic double, comparing it to an athlete taking part in Olympic qualification and then being dropped for the main event.

“You have to be sure that the performers and the song, it is at the highest level,” he told reporters.

Asked how Yang’s parents would explain the decision to her, Felli added: “That is what it is in sport, in life.”

Photographs of Lin in a bright red party dress apparently singing the patriotic song “Ode to the Motherland” were published in newspapers and on websites all over the world.

The official China Daily on Tuesday said “songbird” Lin was on the way to becoming a major star, and it quoted her father as saying his daughter had become an international singing sensation.

However the tributes stopped after Chen Qigang, the musical director of the opening ceremony, revealed in an interview that pigtailed Lin was only selected to appear because of her “flawless” appearance and did not sing a note.

“The reason was for the national interest,” Chen, a renowned composer and French citizen, said in an interview that briefly appeared on the news website before it was apparently wiped.

“Lin Miaoke is excellent in those aspects. But in terms of voice, Yang Peiyi is perfect,” he said.

Chinese newspapers and broadcasters made no reference to the two young girls on Wednesday. References to the story were also blocked or deleted from the Internet.

Later in the day the official Xinhua news agency put out a brief item on the official reaction to the issue, but it only appeared on the English-language service.

China’s media is under the control of the central government, which also tightly polices the Internet and often deletes or blocks access to items considered unflattering to the country’s leaders.

The song saga may have embarrassed the nation’s top leaders after Chen also revealed the decision to switch the girls was made by a very senior official.

China’s ministry of industry and information technology, which is in charge of the Internet in the country, declined to comment on the issue on Wednesday.

The opening ceremony directed by China’s Oscar-nominated filmmaker Zhang Yimou and featuring more than 15,000 performers won high praise in China and overseas for its breadth, scope and flawless execution.

However criticism began to build after it emerged that another part of the opening ceremony had been faked.

Supposedly live pictures of fireworks depicting footprints moving from central Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to the Olympic stadium in the north of the capital were actually partly computer-generated or pre-recorded for TV, organisers have admitted.

– AFP: Olympic bosses defend faked ceremony song

Posted in Beijing Olympics, Children, China, News, Official, People, Politics, Social, Sports, World | 2 Comments »

China’s way of hiding shame

Posted by Author on August 14, 2008

Jane Macartney in Beijing, The Times Online, UK, August 13, 2008-

An old Chinese saying goes: “A man has face, a tree has bark.” Face – honour and prestige – is a visceral issue in China. Without it one is undeserving of respect.

After a seven-year build up anything less than a flawless Olympics would represent a loss of face for the emerging superpower at a moment when the eyes of the world are on it.

Was it really necessary to withdraw a seven-year-old with the voice of an angel but with crooked teeth so that a little girl with a prettier face could mime her words? And how much did it matter if the world’s television screens showed empty seats?

To the organisers of the Olympics – and to their bosses in the Communist Party Politburo – these are questions of crucial importance. Chen Qigang, musical director of the opening ceremony, saw no need for shame when explaining the change of singer.

He said: “We have a responsibility to face the whole country and to be open with this explanation. It is a question of national interest. It is a question of the image of our national music, our national culture.”

China wanted the world to see that the tiny singer in her bright red dress, standing alone on stage to represent the nation, was as adorable as could be. That was seen as a way to win international prestige and to protect face before an audience of hundreds of millions at home.

And that sums up, too, the decision to bring in cheering volunteers to fill up empty seats in stadiums where tickets have been sold but the spectators, for some reason, have failed to turn up. It is representative of the authoritarian state that is China, where the “masses” can be deployed when necessary. And they will do so uncomplainingly for the good of the nation.

China is hardly alone in wanting to put on a good show. When Tony Blair arrived to take up his job at No 10 in May 1997 he was cheered by hundreds of flag-waving Labour activists brought in for the occasion. President Bush always appears before hand-picked crowds.

Few Chinese have been outraged by the revelation that the television images of the fireworks at the start of the Olympics opening ceremony were digitally created. After all, the show went on – even if they didn’t actually see it. And many Beijing residents are now living in a Potemkin city where any unsightly building has been shielded from the eyes of the world by hastily erected grey brick walls or by arrays of bright Olympic posters. China sees a fake city not as a sign of shame, but of hiding its shame. The same applies to false spectators.

– Original: The Times Online, UK

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China Cover Up as Beijing Olympic Dancer Crippled in Fall (photo)

Posted by Author on August 13, 2008

liu yan olympic dancer crippled in fall

Though Ms. Liu Yan was to perfrom the lone solo in the Games' opening ceremonies, news of her serious injury was suppressed.

By Xin Fei and Jason Loftus, Epoch Times Staff, Aug 12, 2008-

The Chinese Communist regime repressed news of a tragic fall that left the lead dancer for the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games paralyzed from the waist down.

Dancer Ms. Liu Yan was seriously injured during a rehearsal for the opening ceremonies on July 27. Anger swelled in Chinese internet forums after news of the accident—not posted until August 6—was hurriedly removed by censors.

Pressed by reporters at a news conference in Beijing the day after the opening ceremonies, director Zhang Yimou admitted a dancer had been injured but did not name Ms. Liu. On August 11, the dancer’s devastating injury was confirmed by Mainland Chinese media, and photos of the hospitalized dancer appeared online.

Ms. Liu, 26, fell more than 3 m when she leapt to a moving platform controlled by People’s Liberation Army soldiers, according to accounts of the incident published Monday in the Yangzi Evening News and online. The platform moved before she could plant her feet, web postings say, and Ms. Liu fell to the ground, landing on her back.

Ms. Liu was to be the lone solo dancer in the opening ceremonies, the Shanghai Daily confirmed on Wednesday, Aug. 13. The ceremonies included 14,000 dancers, 9,000 of them PLA soldiers.

The Shanghai Daily quoted doctors at the No. 206 People’s Liberation Army Hospital in Beijing who said the young woman would likely spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair and would rely on others for care. It offered no explanation for why the news had been held until two-and-a-half weeks after the accident.

Incensed bloggers circulated reports that it took over an hour for paramedics to arrive and take Ms. Yan to the hospital, where doctors reportedly operated on her for six hours.

According to the Hong Kong-based Wenhui News, Liu Yan was born in Inner Mongolia in 1982. She graduated from the Beijing Dance Academy and was a celebrated dancer, winning top honours in a 2004 national competition.

Her parents—a government cadre and medical worker—were reportedly devastated by the news and rushed to Beijing from Huhehaote City, the capital of Inner Mongolia.

When organizers of the opening ceremonies did finally come forward to admit the accident, deputy director Zhang Jigang had warm words for the fallen dancer.

“We will keep your name on the list of performers for the opening ceremony forever,” he was quoted as saying.

– Original: The Epochtimes

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Beijing Olympics: Sold-out sham of empty seats

Posted by Author on August 13, 2008

The Sun, UK, Aug. 13, 2008-

ROWS of empty seats have been visible in TV coverage of the games, despite claims the Olympics was a sell-out.

Even a match with Wimbledon champ Venus Williams failed to attract the spectators (photo).

Chinese cheerleaders were shipped in to fill stadiums and liven the atmosphere.

China’s population is 1.3billion — one for every five people on the planet — so where is everyone?

– Original: The Sun, UK

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China: Empty Seats A Concern for Olympic Games, Cheer Squads Are Used To Fill Up

Posted by Author on August 13, 2008

Paul Kelso, The,Tuesday August 12 2008-

Olympic organisers admitted today that they are using volunteers to fill swathes of empty seats at competition venues as concerns grow at the failure of ticket holders to attend events.

Despite claims from the Beijing organising committee (Bocog) that all 6.8m tickets for the Games have been sold and confident predictions of full houses at every event, the first three days of competition have seen spaces available at most venues.

There have also been large numbers of yellow-shirted “cheerleaders” present at some events, recruited to create an atmosphere and to prevent the embarrassing spectacle of empty seats appearing on television.

At the Capital Gymnasium earlier this week there were three blocks of several hundred yellow-shirted spectators cheering loudly for Venezuela as they took on the USA at volleyball.

Yesterday, organisers claimed that the cheerleaders were in fact spectators, but today Wang Wei, vice-president of Bocog, conceded that they had been recruited by venue managers to fill seats.

“We are concerned about the fact we do not have full stadia,” he said. “We think it is due to the weather, the humidity and then the rain, and on the first couple of days there were not many spectators who showed up.”

“There are also reserved seats for the Olympic family that have not been taken up, the preliminary rounds are sometimes not attended, and people at other events have tickets for the whole day and do not attend the every event.

“If local venue managers find there are not enough people in the venue or too many empty seats they arrange for local volunteers as cheerleaders, and they are told to cheer for both teams to create a better atmosphere. If the ticket-holders turn up then they get up and go.”

The vast majority of tickets have been sold to Chinese nationals but despite the assurances of the organisers Olympic enthusiasm has not tempted them all to take up their seats. Ticket touts have also been operating despite it being illegal under Chinese law.

Bocog’s problems are compounded by the situation at the Olympic Green and the main park, which has been sparsely attended because only ticket holders can get access. Beijing residents without tickets can be seen walking around the perimeter of the heavily secured site attempting to get a glimpse of the Bird’s Nest stadium and the Water Cube.

The situation is understood to have angered some IOC sponsors, whose expensively-erected exhibition pavilions have been deserted. Wang Wei said that Bocog would act to admit more people. “Yesterday we saw that there were not enough people in the Olympic Green, and we encourage more people to come. Local communities can apply for tickets, and people from around China can come through travel agents.”

– Original: Olympics: Empty seats a concern for Games, The Guardian

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