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China Retracts Censorship Promise

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Tagged As: China, Foreign Affairs, and Free Speech

At the announcement of the IOC's decision to award the 2008 Olympic games to China, France declared: "Following the example of Nazi Germany in 1936 and the Soviet Union in 1980, Communist China will use (the games) as a powerful propaganda instrument destined to consolidate its hold on power." China made a number of promises in order to win the bid, one of which included a provision that during the games international journalists would be free to interview citizens and the infamous Internet firewall would be lifted. The promise has already been reversed, just days before the opening ceremony. Journalists have been blocked access for interviews, experienced site blockages on the Internet and been subjected to a sudden "slowdown" in network access. Olympic historian David Wallechinsky laments, "there is so much money being made that the IOC has just turned a blind eye."

Such promise-pulling practices have been the practice of the Chinese government since first opening to the West in the historic political meeting between Richard Nixon and Mao Tse-tung. That opening and virtually all political gestures over the past 36 years have been gambits to rapidly attain a prominent world position. "Relations with the Chinese are complex and cannot be taken at face value. In both historic and contemporary affairs, China's leadership interacts with foreign states on a basis of privilege and need only."

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