Bylines at Customs: Is China Asking For Negative Stories?!?

The top media story with only 7 days until the Opening Ceremonies isn't about how beautiful the weather is in Beijing today, but instead it's focused on how the internet is censored for foreign reporters. We were going to stay away from this topic, but then we got to talking more and more about it, and there is only one logical conclusion (if you can call it that) we could reach, China wants foreign reporters to write negative stories. It seems that the IOC agreed to China's internet censorship, but that's not important.

The one question we keep asking is why? Foreign reporters, mostly from the US and Europe are free to use the internet all they want to read negative stories about China in their home country. While China censors websites, it can't censor emails, so if a reporter finds a story or a website he wants to read, all he needs to do is have a colleague back home cut and paste the article and email it to him and he can then read away.

If China would have stuck to what seemed to be its original promise and left the internet uncensored for reporters, this wouldn't be a story, or at most it might have been talked about as a positive development (though I can imagine a reporter or two would write about how, despite the fact they could view the websites, the average Chinese was unable to, blah blah blah). Instead it stated that its initial promise was to not censor any stories connected to the Games (as if there was any reason they would to begin with).

It would seem the decision to censor was to create bad press even before the Games began so that they could rally against the"bias" of the Western media. What other rational explanation could there be for such an idiotic policy? Or am I giving the powers that be at BOCOG too much credit, are they really that stupid?

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