Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
BEIJING - The Internet must be open during the Beijing Olympics.
That was the message an International Olympic Committee (IOC) official delivered to Beijing organisers yesterday during the last official sessions between IOC inspectors and the Chinese host before the games begin in just more than four months.
China routinely blocks Internet access, a practice it has stepped up since rioting broke out about two weeks ago in Tibet.
Kevan Gosper, vice-chairman of the IOC coordinating commission, said blocking the Internet during the Games "would reflect very poorly" on the host nation.
The Chinese had an obligation under the so-called "host city agreement" to open Internet access to 30000 accredited and non-accredited journalists .
"There was some criticism that the Internet closed down during events relating to Tibet, but this is not games time," Gosper said.
Laws that lifted most restrictions on foreign media went into effect on January 1 last year and are due to expire in October.
When asked for comment, foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu said China's "management" of the Internet followed the "general practice of the international community".
She acknowledged that China bans some Internet content but declined to say if the Internet would be unrestricted during the Olympics. - Sapa