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Chinese Olympics Propaganda: Pretending to Permit Protest

July 27, 2008

Students for a Free Tibet
July 24, 2008

On July 23rd, at a press conference for foreign journalists in
Beijing, Chinese authorities announced that it will "allow protests"
in Beijing during the Olympics.

Wow. Really? That's unexpected. A real about-face for the Chinese
authoritarian regime!

But wait, there's a hitch or two. Or ten.

To demonstrate, one just has to go apply for permission from the city
government and police, and give five days notice.

Oh, and a law passed by the Chinese government shortly after the
Tiananmen Square massacre bars protests that harm the country's
unity, sovereignty and integrity or threatens social stability or the
authority of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

In other words, unless you're protesting to show your outrage that
China isn't more ruthless in crushing Tibetan resistance, or
demanding that Chinese authorities show more of a backbone by
immediately invading Taiwan, your application ain't gonna be approved.

And even with all that, Chinese officials are still being vague.

Liu Shaowu, director of the Beijing organising committee's security
department told reporters: "As for the concrete application, and who
handles those applications, I have no clear information at this time."

According to a BBC report:

"To underline just how sensitive the issue is, the Chinese
authorities seemed reluctant to publicise exactly where protests
would be allowed.

A transcript of Wednesday's press conference on the Beijing
organising committee's website expunged the parks' names.

Asked by a reporter for our comments on the Beijing "protest zones,"
Students for a Free Tibet had this to say:

'Considering the massive security clampdown that the Chinese
government is carrying out right now in Tibet and China, the
so-called Olympic "protest zones" are nothing more than a cynical
public relations ploy -- likely devised for the Chinese authorities
by PR firm Hill & Knowlton -- a pathetic attempt to convince the
world that China is open and free.'

It is well known that anyone who protests or even disagrees with
official Chinese policy is subject to intimidation, imprisonment, and
torture and so the idea that a Tibetan could even safely apply for a
permit to protest during the Beijing Olympics is a sad joke."
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