30 July 2008

Surprise! The IOC Capitulates to China

(From Sinotaneous)

Yesterday, "negotiations" went on between the IOC and Chinese authorities regarding unrestricted internet access for the media covering the Olympics. Today, we know how it all went down.

Just call it an unconditional surrender.

The bullying Chinese government has won the day and once again proved that rules are for suckers and promises are meant for babes. Despite all its previous assurances guaranteeing press freedom, China had no intention of keeping its word at all.

According to the International Herald Tribune:

Since the Olympic Village press center opened Friday, reporters have been unable to access scores of Web pages — among them those that discuss Tibetan issues, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown on the protests in Tiananmen Square and the Web sites of Amnesty International, the BBC's Chinese-language news, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse.

The restrictions, which closely resemble the blocks that China places on the Internet for its citizens, undermine sweeping claims by Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, that China had agreed to provide free Web access for foreign news media during the Games. Rogge has long argued that one of the main benefits of awarding the Games to Beijing was that the event would make China more open.

"For the first time, foreign media will be able to report freely and publish their work freely in China. There will be no censorship on the Internet," Rogge told Agence France-Presse just two weeks ago.

Rogge and the IOC simply capitulated. Unable to persuade the Chinese Communist regime to stick to its pledge, the IOC just shuffled off and threw up its hands. Unwilling to take a stand at the risk of damaging his brand, Rogge preferred to eat his own word.

With one week to go before the Games, the totalitarian regime has gradually revealed its ferocious fangs. It has proven that it intends to carry out its will with impunity. And so far, no one has dared to challenge it. The IOC could've threatened to pull the Olympics out of Beijing altogether. But taking a page out of Marshal Petain's book: Why fight when it's so much easier just to surrender?

There is but one person with enough clout to at least make Beijing squirm: George W. Bush. Previously I had counseled in favor of Bush attending the Opening Ceremony to provide China some cover for relaxing its death grip on all matters relating to freedom. But in the face of renewed and heightened Chinese intransigence, it's clearly time for Bush to reconsider.

Somebody should resort to the stick after all the carrots are devoured, right?

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