China well-versed in controlling flow of information. Lost amongst the amazing feats and sights of these Beijing games is a sad reality – China is still nowhere close to being a free and open society. In addition to the above reports of interfering with the press, there are also reports of the government arresting people who tried to apply to protest in Beijing. Just some of the lowlights:
In what the Guardian is calling “the clearest breach yet of the host nation’s promise of free media access during the Games,” Independent Television News journalist John Ray was detained as he attempted to cover a Free Tibet protest close to the main Olympic zone. Ray was dragged along the ground and forcibly restrained for about 20 minutes.
Virtually ignored in China, there was a great deal of attention paid in the U.S. press when President Bush attended church in Beijing. There has been little coverage anywhere that Hua Huiqi, the head of an unrecognized Protestant church, was arrested while on his way to the same church service that Bush attended.
The official Xinhua News Agency said all the applications were withdrawn, suspended or rejected. Rights groups and relatives have said some applicants were immediately taken away by security agents after applying to hold a rally, prompting critics to accuse officials of using the plan as a trap to draw potential protesters to their attention.
What’s sad and shameful is NBC hasn’t covered any of these events in its primetime coverage, instead holding up Mary Carillo’s video postcards as their vision of China. I have been drawn in by the spectacle and wonder of the Chinese culture as I’ve watched these Games too, but its important to remember we’re seeing China as their government wants them to see it. I hope at some point we can get a more objective reports from China.
Update: The New York Times has a story on one of the detained protesters this afternoon.