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China, Internet filtering, and the Olympics

July 31, 2008

The 2008 Olympics open in Beijing in about a week, and Internet filtering practices in China have again made international headlines as journalists and others experience the so-called Great Firewall firsthand; or, as our colleagues at the OpenNet Initiative blogged yesterday, "On the Olympic stage, the Great Firewall remains a player." The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) team will be monitoring the Internet filtering situation in China during the Olympics. The team explains:

Seven years ago, during China's bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese government promised the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a more open China, with unfettered Internet access for foreign journalists being used as a prime example of China's commitment to openness.

Observers of China's Internet filtering practices have long been anticipating how China would fulfill those promises to the IOC. The options were few and clear:

  • 1. China would open the Internet during the Olympic period
  • 2. An open enclave for foreign journalists would be created
  • 3. China would break its promise

Unsurprisingly, China has so far not honored its promises. Not only do the government's monitors continue to filter hundreds of sites; the press center for foreign journalists offers the same filtered version of the Internet.

With opening day of the Games only a week away and more web sites become accessible, ONI will continue to monitor China’s filtering practices. In particular, we will monitor Olympic coverage to examine how coverage within China differs from coverage accessible from outside the country.

For up-to-date coverage of China’s filtering practices, during the Olympics and beyond, check ONI’s China page frequently.

ONI's special monitoring of China during the Olympics parallels
Global Voices Online's own "Olympics Special Coverage."
Check them both out!

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July 31, 2008