RSF inaugurates own ‘pavilion’ at Shanghai Expo

By J. Michael Cole  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Apr 28, 2010 - Page 4

The Expo 2010 Shanghai slogan “Better city — Better life” is meaningless when a government imposes so many curbs on freedom of expression, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a press release on Monday.

“‘City under surveillance — Lives under surveillance’ would be a better slogan for this World Expo in China,” the organization said.

Ahead of the official opening of the World Expo on Saturday, RSF has launched its own virtual pavilion named Garden of Freedoms.

The online “Garden of Freedoms” (­_en.html), available in Simplified Chinese, French and English, is dedicated to freedom of expression and has a cyber-­police pavilion, a Tibet pavilion and a “prisoners of conscience enclosure,” where visitors can sign petitions for their release.

“The ‘Garden of Freedoms’ will be the only place in the ­Shanghai World Expo where you will be able to discover the realities that the Chinese authorities go out of their way to hush up. Several dozen Shanghai human rights activists are currently under close police surveillance to prevent them from meeting the foreign journalists who will be covering the inauguration,” RSF said.

“A World Expo is meant to bring people together around such values as progress, humanism and culture,” it said. “What kind of universal values is China offering us when it jails such advocates of democracy as the intellectual Liu Xiaobo [劉曉波]? Why do the representatives of the democratic countries, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who will be at the inauguration, say nothing about China’s dark side?”

Two representatives of RSF — including secretary-general Jean-Francois Julliard — have been denied visas to visit Shanghai.

An official at the Chinese embassy in Paris told RSF that Beijing had instructed them to refuse the visas.

Asked by the Taipei Times if RSF expected Chinese hacker ­attacks on the site, Vincent ­Brossel, head of RSF’s Asia-­Pacific desk, said that while they feared this was a possibility, nothing had happened since the “Garden of Freedoms” campaign was launched.

“The last hacking attack on the RSF Web site dates back to August 2008 and the site remains blocked [in China],” he said. “If an attack occurs, we hope our host will be able to assist us.”