Staff Editorial: China tramples on rights with media restrictions, spying

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press. Unfortunately, the Chinese people have no such freedom, and now neither do members of the media covering the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

Although Chinese officials said they would lift restrictions put on Internet use for the Olympics, they have now backtracked on their statement and kept blocks on Web sites in place in the Olympics’ Main Press Center, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

China has censored Web sites dealing with Tibet, democracy and the Tiananmen Square protests for years; however, officials told the International Olympic Committee the press would have "complete freedom to report" when they were bidding on the games in 2001.

China’s communist party has the power to control what its citizens are viewing, but that power should not be held over the rest of the world, especially during a global event. China restricting Olympic coverage to their people is one thing, but not allowing the world’s media outlets, that have paid millions of dollars for coverage rights, to access the information they need is completely unfair.

Internet sites won’t be the only things China is watching during the games. CNN’s Jack Cafferty reported, "foreign-owned hotels are being forced by the Communist Chinese government to install software that can spy on hotel guests." He also said that Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan). found a document instructing all hotels to use the spyware or face punishments.

The Olympics are set to begin on Aug. 2 and most media members and athletes have already arrived in Beijing. It seems peculiar that these findings have come so close to the opening ceremonies, leaving little room for negotiations with the country.

With more than 200 countries participating in the 2008 Olympics, one country’s rules should not be allowed to take away public information and privacy from so many people – whether they are hosting the event or not.

The 2008 games’ motto is "One world, one dream." Sadly, its China’s dream we all must see.

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