Letters: Olympics will end illusions

Fri, Aug 17, 2007 - Page 8

When Beijing was awarded the right to host the Olympic Games, foreign supporters hoped that it would improve respect for human rights and press freedom. However, there's only one year left before the start of the games and fundamentally there has been little improvement.

Last week foreign journalists were roughed up and detained for trying to report on a protest in Beijing. Police also detained six activists from Britain, the US and Canada who had hung a huge banner on the Great Wall reading "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008."

These incidents make it clear that despite its claims, Beijing never intended to loosen its grip on information and freedom of speech.

Yet while it is relatively easy to whitewash the content of domestic media, it is a totally different matter with foreign reporters. With the advent of the Olympics, China will be the focus of outside scrutiny. Human-rights advocates, dissidents and others are sure to use the presence of foreign journalists to publicize their grievances.

By suppressing the media, China will expose itself as the authoritarian regime that it really is.

Ho Ping-jung