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Olympics: Athlete Liu’s Departure Raises Questions

On August 18, Liu Xiang, one of China’s greatest hopes for winning a gold medal had to withdraw from the Olympics due to his foot injury, reported Xinhua. His abrupt departure from the 110 meter hurdles surprised Chinese who had high expectations of his winning gold medals as he did at the 2004 Olympics.  According to a poll, 49% understand and want him to move on.  40% regret his action and would have preferred that he continued with the competition.  Many have voiced claims that Liu’s action was ordered by the Chinese authorities to save face because Liu could not win. Sources say on August 19, the Chinese Communist Party Propaganda Department issued a mandate that all media must follow the official explanation. 

Chinese News, August 18, 2008
Epoch Times, August 20, 2008

Olympics: the Battlefield of Party Factions

As the Beijing Olympics has become the Olympics of the Party, factions within the Party are marking out their own territory, observes the Hong Kong-based Trend Magazine. President Hu Jintao is re-enforcing his position in the military. The deployment of the “Red Flag 7” Short-range surface-to-air missile outside the Olympics main site is one example. Former President Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai gang flexes its muscles through control of propaganda and foreign affairs. Internal documents on propaganda mandate that no media shall follow the tune of the western reports. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a special mission, according to internal documents: (1) help overseas Chinese understand the need to politicize the Olympics; (2) offer business opportunities and lobby pro-China media in the West to spread that the Beijing Olympics is the pre-requisite of further reform; and (3) persuade pro-China media and commentators in Hong Kong and Taiwan to support the Olympics.

Source: The Trend Magazine

Olympics: Cheer Squads Deployed to Cover up Empty Seats

On August 12, 2008, Wang Wei, vice-president of the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee (BOCOG) revealed they were volunteers shipped in to “create a good atmosphere” by cheering for both sides at team events, reported Times Online. “If people turn up they will let them take their seats,” Mr Wang said. On August 11 at a press conference, Wang was questioned on why seats in many games were empty. Wang stated that a lot of seats were reserved for sponsors, media and VIP and they did not come. For example they went to games they like and did not go to others. Wang urged that all should respect the rights of these audience to choose the games they want to see.

Times Online, August 12, 2008
Xinhua, August 11, 2008

Olympic Reporting Guideline: Emphasize Positive and Minimize Negative News

Recently the media propaganda department issued a list of requirements and guidelines on news reports about the Olympic games and its opening ceremony. The guideline emphasizes the requirement to report positively about the games. It asks media channels to downplay negative news and even forbids them to report news on subjects such as the designated demonstration sites, attacks of policemen in Xinjiang, or the mishandling of Sichuan earthquake funds.

Source: Boxun, August 8, 2008

Olympics: Four Foreign Protesters Expelled

Four human rights activists from U.K. and U.S. were arrested and expelled from China today. On August 6 at 5:47 a.m., three men and one woman managed to hang two banners on light posts. One banner said “Tibet will be Free”; the other said “One World One Dream Free Tibet”. Per Xinhua News, police arrived within 12 minutes and arrested them.

A spoke person of the Beijing Olympics Committee said: “their behavior is unacceptable and illegal.”

The two British citizens have boarded a Frankfurt-bound plane; the two Americans were flying to San Francisco.

Source: BBC, August 7, 2008

Olympics: China Unblocks Some Websites While Blocking Others

Under widespread complaints from foreign reporters, Beijing opened up a few blocked websites, including Amnesty International, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and the BBC. This privilege is only for foreigners, not Chinese citizens.

Other sensitive websites such as those of Falun Gong or the Tibetan government in exile remain blocked.

Source: Boxun, August 1, 2008