CHINA SUPPRESSES PRESS FREEDOM
Bob Dietz is Asia program coordinator for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. He says that his group has joined others in calling on China to honor the commitments it made to stop repressing Chinese journalists when the International Olympic Committee granted China rights to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games back in 2001.
A new Committee to Protect Journalists report states that the Chinese government "severely restricts and censors the domestic press despite its promise to give the media complete freedom." The report says "vast censorship rules are in place" in China and that "press attacks and harassment occur with impunity." The report says twenty-nine journalists are in prison in China.
The New York-based group Human Rights Watch charged that China's government repeatedly has obstructed the work of foreign journalists in 2007, despite having adopted at the beginning of the year "temporary regulations to comply with commitments it made to the International Olympic Committee on guaranteeing journalists' freedom."
The Paris-based press-freedom advocacy group Reporters Without Borders called for the release of journalists, cyber-dissidents, and free speech activists currently being held by the Chinese government, and for an end to censorship of the news media and the Internet. According to Reporters Without Borders, at least twelve websites in China were closed or blocked in July.
The human rights group Amnesty International said that the Olympics are being used by the Chinese government to justify its "growing crackdown on Chinese human rights activists and journalists" in the name of harmony or social stability rather than "acting as a catalyst for reform."
The State Department's most recent Annual Human Rights Report on China noted that Chinese "law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, although the government generally did not respect these rights in practice." As U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said in testimony before the U.S. Congress, the Chinese government "needs to respect its citizens' right to speak, assemble, and publish