Olympics-China Media Watch: News on the news

The media is in the news. The official Xinhua News Agency chimes in on the fracas over Web access for foreign journalists in the Olympic press center. In a commentary headlined “Do not let ‘press freedom’ supersede Chinese law” Xinhua defends the government’s policy of blocking sensitive Web sites, repeating the justification Games spokesman Sun Weide gives journalists:

Sun Weide says that during the period of the Beijing Olympics, China will provide abundant facilities for foreign journalists to access the international Web. In China and Beijing, the channels for foreign journalists to use the Web to report on the Olympic Games are smooth. The principal reason for blocking a few sites is that they disseminate topics that violate Chinese law.

The article brings up the ban on viewing Falun Gong Web sites but does not mention the news, reported today by AP and other international news outlets, that the Chinese government has lifted some of the restrictions on the Internet for reporters inside the Olympic press center. Beijing-based English-language blog Danwei reported that the previously blocked Web sites of Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, and Radio Free Asia are now available.

A South Korean journalist who skirted Olympic security to sneak out footage of the dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony of the Games was also news in China today. The reporter from SBS television station has apologized, according to Nanfang Dushi Bao and other Chinese outlets.

David Bandurski, a media analyst at Hong Kong University, discusses a China Newsweekly report on the new freedom of information law in China. Citizens like it, it seems, but government officials not so much.