Chinese government officials are mighty defensive about people who say Beijing has not lived up to its word about hosting an Olympics that is free and open to the press. That’s because the truth hurts.
Take the dreary Wang Wei, executive VP of the organizing committee, who ripped critics the other day. You remember, Wang. He’s the guy who promised the International Olympic Committee that China would move heaven and earth to make sure the media enjoyed unfettered coverage of the Games. His exact words eight years ago, “We will give the media complete freedom to report when they come to China.” They proved to be empty words.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China has been tracking China’s molestation of the media. It has posted a roster of outrages on its website. They include instances such as three carloads of plainclothes officials intimidating sources being interviewed by Scandinavian journalists, a beating of Japanese reporters by paramilitary police, and the roughing up and detention of British journalist John Ray of Independent News Network who was covering a “Free Tibet” protest by the Olympic Zone. Jonathan Watts, president of FCCC, demanded the Chinese Government apologize to Ray and “investigate potential illegal action or abuse of authority by police.” Authorities investigating the authorities is pretty nonsensical.
Then there are the famous “protest zones” that Wang cited as “steps in the right direction” taken by a China eager to ease up on the human rights front. A small problem with the zones: a protester must file a permit to protest. And, of course, Chinese authorities who are hellbent on keeping any dissent in the people's paradise out of the news have been rounding out those asking for permits. It just makes perfect Orwellian sense.