The Chinese government is intent on presenting its best face to the world when the Beijing Olympics open on August 8. The construction of world-class facilities and grounds and the filtering of pollution from the air bring to mind the single-minded determination of China's Five-Year Plans of old. But as Amnesty International points out in a report (.pdf) released today, China's eagerness to have the Games go off without a hitch is also showcasing the government's worst traits, particularly in the area of human rights and press freedom. As Amnesty spokesman Sam Zarifi told Voice of America:
The Chinese government has become so obsessed with projecting an image of stability and harmony that they won't allow any voice of disagreement, however reasonable or peaceful, so we see human rights activists being targeted .... Even the promise that foreign media would be allowed to report completely freely as has been the case in previous Olympics, that has not been met.
Freedom of the press will be the subject of a news conference on Capitol Hill today, where Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, will release several translated documents, showing that all hotels in the area of the Olympics have been required to install Internet surveillance software. The move, according to a press release, "is aimed at visiting guests and journalists." From one of the documents, translated from Chinese:
In order to ensure the smooth opening of Olympic [sic]... It is required that your company install and run the Security Management System for Internet Access from Public Places in addition to provide network interfaces consistent with the industrial technical standards on public security for the implementation the foregoing management and technical measures (the person who access the Internet must be registered in his or her real name)
Let the Games begin.