Chinese Surprise

 Posted by on 3 August 2008 at 11:19 pm  Foreign Policy, Sports
Aug 032008

StrategyPage reports on China’s last-minute announcement that it will monitor the internet activity of foreign visitors during the Olympics:

In preparation for the August Olympic Games in Beijing, China has installed hardware and software in all hotels, to make it easier for state security to monitor foreign visitors that use the Internet. Some foreign owned hotels leaked the documents (orders from the Chinese government to install the systems) to U.S. government officials, who made it public. The foreign owned hotels in Beijing were threatened with closure if they did not comply.

Years ago, the Chinese government promised there would be open access to the Internet during the games. This despite the fact that the Chinese Internet is designed to be easily monitored by a huge (over 30,000 people) bureaucracy that does nothing but monitor Internet use (and imprisons those who say anything the state does not approve of.)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that they are “surprised” by this decision, especially since the IOC has been telling foreign journalists all this time that they would have “free and uncensored Internet access”.

The real surprise is that the IOC would have believed the earlier Chinese government promises of “free and uncensored Internet access”, despite decades of authoritarian and repressive behaviour by that same government.

These are the problems you get when you grant undeserved moral sanction to countries like China, treating them as if they were on par with much freer countries like Japan, Australia, and the those in Western Europe.

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