BBC will show Olympic protests

From Richard Spencer in the Telegraph:

The BBC, the only British broadcaster with access to stadiums this summer, says it cannot be expected to hide demonstrations if they happen at events where they have cameras.

Its decision, which it stresses will be applied “responsibly”, will increase Beijing’s nervousness as the Games approach.

The Beijing Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, BOCOG, has already had angry exchanges with the world’s leading broadcasters who complain of delays over permits to bring their equipment into the country and to deploy them around the city.

At stake is not only control over what sort of events can be broadcast, but also increasingly tight restrictions on shooting locations, with Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and other sites with important symbolic value on the list of those off-limits to broadcasters.

Despite promises of unprecedented access for the world’s media during the games, it is becoming clear to many journalists in Beijing that the government and BOCOG are increasingly wary of allowing in so many prying eyes, roving cameras, and possible hidden agendas. This has sparked tension between representatives of the foreign media and their Chinese handlers.

Dave Gordon, head of major sports events for the BBC, told The Daily Telegraph that Beijing had become “more difficult” for broadcasters than the Moscow Games in 1980.

He said international representatives had tried to get answers for two years on whether the Olympic broadcasting agency that provides the only feed of the actual events would show footage of protests if they occurred.

“They fudge the question,” he said. “They won’t commit to saying yes, they will cover it or no, they will not cover it. They put a lot of stress on the importance of covering the sport. I think we have to draw our own conclusions.”

Mr Gordon said the BBC paid a lot of attention to “responsible” coverage of protests and whether 24-hour rolling news meant coverage of individual protests might become disproportionate.

But he added it was unthinkable that if its own cameras in the stadium picked up a protest it would not be shown. “We have to cover the Olympics warts and all,” he said.

“Warts and all” is a standard worth discussing. For as much as BOCOG and the Chinese government love to whine about how ‘foreigners’ are politicizing the Olympics, only the most naive or disingenuous would deny that the Beijing games have always come with striking political overtones. For both the government and people, these games are about more than medals and celebrity hurdlers. On my television set nightly and in conversations around Beijing I inevitably hear the refrain of ‘celebrating new China’ and ‘demonstrating to the world how far China has come (back).’ There’s nothing wrong with that, but if one is inviting guests over to admire the new draperies, can we fault the visitors for whispering amongst themselves if they also happen to see your child has a black eye?

I remember the extensive coverage of the 1996 pipe bombing during the Atlanta games. It was news and it had to be covered. Atlanta received an enormous amount of scrutiny and criticism, not only for security but also for being–until 2008–the most commercialized games in Olympic history. Such was the antipathy that at the closing ceremonies then IOC president Juan Antonio Saramanch withheld his usual polite ‘best games ever’ compliment. Sure there were some bruised feelings in the Peach Tree State, but people got over it. If something similar happened in Beijing, what would be the response?

In terms of television feeds and media access, at issue is this: What are the rights and responsibilities of broadcasters covering the games? Should they only show sports or do they also have an obligation to take a broader perspective in the event of protests and demonstrations, or even a single act of defiance by an athlete with an agenda? Any thoughts?

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 130 Comments

When Cao Meng De says “we” who is he talking about?

A) the American people

B) California residents with Chinese ancestors

C) the surfing community in Malibu

D) the Baywatch team

June 19, 2008 @ 10:49 pm | Comment

@cao

“Si,

“the history is irrelevant”

True. We own Xinjiang now, and there is nothing you can do about it.”

Don’t recall saying I want/can to do anything about it. I think the CCP is making an enormous mistake by breeding hostility by imposing identity from above and may find problems further down the line in the form of terrorism. Your use of the word “we” and “own” speak volumes. Who are we? And what do you mean by own?

Filtering a blog isn’t really censorship as censorship is only valid when it means the “censored” has no way of making their views known. This isn’t the case here as you can always start your own blog in the US (that’s where you are, right?) without the government taking it off line or fear of reprisal – if you think anyone will visit, that is. But then making that effort isn’t as interesting or as easy as sitting on someone else’s blog all day trying to dominate threads.

June 19, 2008 @ 11:30 pm | Comment

@mor

Actually,surfing community in Orange County

@Si
“But then making that effort isn’t as interesting or as easy as sitting on someone else’s blog all day trying to dominate threads.”

Still nursing a surfing injury, gotta fill the time until I can head out to the water again.

June 19, 2008 @ 11:42 pm | Comment

I agree that Richard is generally pretty good at allowing for free expression on this board. I just think his getting irritated by Hong Xing and threatening ban because of that irritation tarnish that image.

June 19, 2008 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

@ Cao

That was really informative, thanks. All I know is that before the Tocharians arrived, it was peopled by populations from Kunlun and Altay (Sino-Tibetan, Mongolic peoples).

The Uighur and Gokturk originated in Southern Siberia and were originally closely related to Halhs/Daur. Islam came from Arabia and modern Uighur’s Indo-European genetic influence (48%) came from the Indo-European heartland of the Caucasus/Southern European Russia.

Therefore, the modern day Uighur have absolutely no claim to Xinjiang whatsoever and the Free Turkestan movement is a Pan-Turkic, Islamist movement that deserves no sympathy. If Xinjiang is to leave Chinese hands (and I agree, it shouldn’t), it should go to the Dzungars or Tibetans, not Islamized/Westernized Turks.

@Si
I think the CCP is making an enormous mistake

Actually I think Westerners/Islamists are making a huge mistake in trying to carve out a huge swathe of China/Mongolia/Tibet with their ahistorical and pseudoscientific claims.

June 20, 2008 @ 6:41 am | Comment

@Ferin

Now you are sounding like Orthodox Jewish settler on the West Bank.

Modern Uyghurs descend from both historic nomadic Uyghurs from Mongolia as well as Tocharian or Iranian oasis dwellers that preceded them.

Soviets revived the ancient term “Uyghurs” to describe the sedentary Turkic oasis dwellers that shared the similar Turkic heritage and language. PRC followed the Soviet convention in marking nationalities. Before the oasis dwellers were known as Sarts.

If you ask me, the division between Uyghurs and Uzbek by the Soviets seem pretty arbitrary. Kashgarlik are probably more similar to Yakub Beg’s Uzbeks than to Turfanlik. Uzbeks and Uyghurs are more similar to each other than different.

It seems that Sarts in the Soviet territory were labeled Uzbek whereas those under Chinese control were called Uyghurs.

Modern Uyghurs kinda lives in Xinjiang, so yes, they have a claim to the land.

But so do Native Hawaiian to Hawaii. Except, after waves of Asian and Mainland immigration, Hawaii has about 200,000 Native Hawaiians out of a population of 1.3 million. More Hawaiianss today trace their ancestry from Japan and Asia. Besides after many mixed marriages, many Hawaii residents are now Chop-Suey. While Indepence movement lives on amg Native Hawaiian, demographics are not on their their side.

China just need to copy the US model and make sure place like Xinjiang and Tibet become mass tourism destinations/military base just like Hawaii. After the demograhic shift, we can even have democracy in there.

“it should go to the Dzungars or Tibetans”
BTW.
I know you are into racial and Sino-Tibetan solidarity and all that. But it’s too late for Dzungars. Qing emperors made sure of that.

June 20, 2008 @ 8:05 am | Comment

@ferin

Just remember racial ideology, just like any other ideology, has no inherent value and is only good for controlling blindly believing masses. Hilter killed more White people than any that came before him.

Be the puppeteer, not the puppet.

June 20, 2008 @ 8:14 am | Comment

I know you are into racial and Sino-Tibetan solidarity and all that. But it’s too late for Dzungars. Qing emperors made sure of that.

For humans, all it takes is 500-1,000 individuals to repopulate a place without significant inbreeding depression 😛

I’m not so much for “Sino-Tibetan solidarity”, but Soviet-supported Islamist/Pan-Turkic movements are automatically suspect.

I would definitely pick the Tibetans and Mongols over Islamist/Nordicist “puppets” as you so describe, despite the bad history.

June 20, 2008 @ 8:59 am | Comment

@Cao
“Iraq war brought China 5 years of breathing space. My heart wants to support Obama but my mind tells me that McCain would be the best President of United States for China. If US really stay in Iraq for 100 years or wage war against Iran, China would be guaranteed No 1 Superpower status.”

Why would the worse American presidential choice for the US be the better for the PRC? America is a pretty important customer for the PRC’s economy, and a pretty important supplier of a lot of stuff to the PRC. Wouldn’t a less productive America be a blow to the PRC and a more productive one a boon?
And why do you think getting the No 1 Superpower status should be such a high priority? Seems like the super power is the one that has to run around and put out all the fires (whether it be Iraq, Germany, or Japan) as they are the one that has the most to lose.
Provided the PRC doesn’t pursue any foolish goals like trying to subjugate the ROC, I think the best man for President of the US will be the best both for America and the PRC, and for most of the rest of the world, whether they know it or not. (And I hope you’ll forgive me if I disagree and say that person is not Obama.)

“China just need to copy the US model and make sure place like Xinjiang and Tibet become mass tourism destinations/military base just like Hawaii. After the demograhic shift, we can even have democracy in there.”

That I would like to see. The central Asian steppes have yet to produce many tourist magnets, but then you wouldn’t have thought Nevada would have either. Perhaps if some gambling and escort service laws are loosened just a bit.

June 20, 2008 @ 9:31 am | Comment

@Lime,

Gotta go to my dance class, I will try my best to respond when I get back.

June 20, 2008 @ 9:41 am | Comment

Wouldn’t a less productive America be a blow to the PRC and a more productive one a boon?

Yes and no.. it depends on whether or not America wants to continue it’s ridiculous crusade against China.

June 20, 2008 @ 10:17 am | Comment

Perhaps if some gambling and escort service laws are loosened just a bit.

I think it would be better to simply bomb a place rather than turn it into an international whorehouse.

June 20, 2008 @ 10:18 am | Comment

@Ferin
America’s on a ridiculous crusade against China??? There are certain groups of people within America (some of which are represented on this blog) that have one bone or another to pick with the PRC, and the US government has been pretty adamant that it’s not going to tolerate any military action by the PRC against the ROC (which is against for one China, but against another, I suppose), but that falls a bit short of a crusade doesn’t it?
And what do you have against international whorehouses?

June 20, 2008 @ 10:48 am | Comment

Sorry;
“(which is for one China, but against another, I suppose)”

June 20, 2008 @ 10:50 am | Comment

There are certain groups of people within America

Neo-cons and hippies both hate China, but I guess most people just don’t care. But if they do have an opinion it’s mostly negative, because they’re easily brainwashed.

And what do you have against international whorehouses?

😐

June 20, 2008 @ 1:39 pm | Comment

@ferin

“Actually I think Westerners/Islamists are making a huge mistake in trying to carve out a huge swathe of China/Mongolia/Tibet with their ahistorical and pseudoscientific claims.”

i agree that any independence movement founded on debatable history is a mistake. it should be founded on an argument for self-determination around a shared identity. “pseudoscientific” – i don’t follow. care to enlarge? as for carving out a chunk of mongolia – i thought mongolia was independent. unless you want to bring back the mongolian empire and be ruled by mongols again? :p

June 20, 2008 @ 3:33 pm | Comment

self-determination around a shared identity.

Any Uighur who wants this can pack his bags and go to Uzbekistan, where they will have it. Otherwise, they are only fairly recent arrivals to Xinjiang.

i thought mongolia was independent.

The parts of it they have a “historical claim” to; not quite sure what that is, but it’s based on the same criterion that split Yugoslavia into little pieces.

June 20, 2008 @ 3:57 pm | Comment

@ferin

“Any Uighur who wants this can pack his bags and go to Uzbekistan, where they will have it. Otherwise, they are only fairly recent arrivals to Xinjiang.”

so i presume if someone kicked you out of the US on these grounds you wouldn’t cry racism? after all yopu are only a fairly recent arrival yourself, right? aren’t most han settlers fairly recent arrivals in xinjiang too? where is your historical cut off point? do people have to prove “they” have been living there for several millenia or will a hundred years do? how do they do that?

still don’t understand what you mean by pseudoscientific. care to enlighten?

June 20, 2008 @ 4:24 pm | Comment

@Ferin
What’s the basis of your ‘neo-cons hate China’? Seems like the neo-cons, being practical technocrats, are more willing than most to overlook the PRC’s flaws to do business with them. You’re right in that if an American conservative (or most any other American) has bothered to develop an opinion about the PRC, they usually put it in the same category as Burma, Cuba, Zimbabwe, or Pakistan; a nasty third world dictatorship ruled by brute force. But unlike the bleeding heart types, the conservative will tell you that this is the Chinese people’s fault, having supported such jerks, and it’s not his responsibility to do anything about it. If a few Falun Gongers or Tibetans get stepped on so he can buy his sneakers and Barbie Dolls that much cheaper, so be it. And when you look at the government, Bush has been just about as friendly as he could possibly be towards the PRC, to the point of treating the ROC like an inconvenient embarrassment.
So who are these ‘neo-cons that hate China’?
As for the hippies, well they hate a lot of things, but their own government far and away outranks the PRC as a source of angst.

And as to the international whorehouses, they generate revenue, create jobs, and bring all sorts of diverse types of people together for their shared love of sin. Don’t believe me, go to Macau or Vegas; they’re all sorts of fun.

June 20, 2008 @ 7:51 pm | Comment

Si,

“Journalists, … are entitled to sniff around London as much as they want. They should feel doggone entitled ….”

“(a) this is an international norm”

You missed the whole point. In case you didn’t notice my argument – being entitled to do something doesn’t always equal to the action. Please read my post again. The question is, do sports journalists sniff around politics in London? I know and agree that they are entitled, but do they?

It is a fine line that separates political conscience and self righteousness, yes?

Excuse my French, but apparently, when it comes to China, every a$$hole’s got a lesson to teach. It’s a once a life time opportunity to show that we have conscience and this old bitch’s obvious got a couple black eyes and some skeletons in the closet. Let’s show the world she does! Oh the dinner party? WTF cares?

June 20, 2008 @ 8:52 pm | Comment

I wouldn’t like to go to a dinner party in a house where they have skeletons in the closet. Sort of would affect my appetite.

June 20, 2008 @ 10:37 pm | Comment

@Lime,

I will try squeeze out a response before my surf buddy gets here.

“Why would the worse American presidential choice for the US be the better for the PRC? America is a pretty important customer for the PRC’s economy, and a pretty important supplier of a lot of stuff to the PRC. Wouldn’t a less productive America be a blow to the PRC and a more productive one a boon?”

Very true. In fact, I believe that the best bargain for US right now is to form a partnership with China. Kind of Sino-American Condominium over the world.

China is rising but US is still significantly more powerful at present time and could make China’s rise difficult if it chooses. China recognizes this and some in China is more than willing to cooperate with Americans.

Time to strike a deal is now when US still has significant leverage over China thus in a position to influence directions of Chinese future development. In 30-50 years, as Chinese economy surpasses that of US, US will have a lot less chips to bring to the table and in a much weaker negotiating position.

Unfortunately very few among American political elite have realize this. Reason? Lack of vision and have heads way up their a$$, Perhaps?

June 20, 2008 @ 10:56 pm | Comment

@Lime

Continued.

“Seems like the neo-cons, being practical technocrats, are more willing than most to overlook the PRC’s flaws to do business with them.”

I would say that about paleo-cons or traditional conservatives such as Gerge Bush Sr. neo-cons belong to a completely different genre of animal. Robert Kaplan have written an in-famous article in June 2005 edition of Altantic Journal named How We Would Fight China

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200506/kaplan

Robert Kagan also recently came out with his league of democracy idea. He wants to kick out Russia from G-8, invite Brazil and India, exclude China. Similar to equally idiotic idea of an “Anglo-sphere” alliance against a rising China. This guys is advising MacCain by the way.

These people seem to have learn their geo-politcal strategy from a game called “Risk”.

They don’t seem to realize that there are very few people in China who has invested interests to pick a fight with US.

How these people with collective analytical power of a fruit fly come so close to decision making process in Washington, at core of the most powerful empire in human history, is beyond my comprehension.

To to answer your question “Why would the worse American presidential choice for the US be the better for the PRC?”

I am inspired by the “Starve the Beast” strategy of conservative tax cut plan. I am pretty pessimistic about the chances of running the war-monger faction out of power. But by supporting these same idiots and have diversion of US military power and attention to Middle East would mean less meddling in China’s backyard.

June 20, 2008 @ 11:20 pm | Comment

^ this

And as to the international whorehouses, they generate revenue, create jobs, and bring all sorts of diverse types of people together for their shared love of sin. Don’t believe me, go to Macau or Vegas; they’re all sorts of fun.

Diversity isn’t a good thing, but I guess you do have a point on prostitution.

June 21, 2008 @ 1:10 am | Comment

so i presume if someone kicked you out of the US on these grounds you wouldn’t cry racism?

Uighurs in China (along with the Han in several provinces and many minorities as well) would be more like illegals in that case, similar to the first European Americans.

June 21, 2008 @ 1:11 am | Comment

@Cao

Kaplan doesn’t sound like an idiot. More like a pessimist to me, but whatever his take on it, he doesn’t represent the whole conservative establishment. From the horse’s mouth;

“Chinese leaders will do whatever is necessary, no matter how inhumane or offensive to us, to pursue their own interests. And they lead a nation of extraordinary potential, that is, whether we like it or not, becoming a great power. America must engage China if we are to maximize our influence over how that immense nation emerges as a world power. [However]. engagement does not require us to cede to China advantages that come at the expense of our own security.”
John McCain, 1999
http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/John_McCain_China.htm

McCain’s not exactly sweet on the PRC, but his position doesn’t seem that much different than yours. Though perhaps John McCain is a paleo-con too? (He is undoubtedly both paleo and conservative isn’t he?)

Bush and his administration have repeatedly said that the best strategy is to try to make the PRC a ‘responsible global stake holder’ (http://www.state.gov/p/eap/rls/rm/69899.htm), and though it annoys me a great deal that he doesn’t stick up more for the ROC’s democracy (the ROC politics are a hobby horse of mine), but he is essentially correct.

By saying, “But by supporting these same idiots and have diversion of US military power and attention to Middle East would mean less meddling in China’s backyard”, it sounds more like you agree more with Kaplan’s vision of the future than with the John McCain’s or with the current administration’s to me.
CCT called my views ‘utopian’, but I still maintain that the PRC’s interests and America’s interests are almost identical, as are most of the rest of the world’s. If we want to brandish weapons at each other, our species has proven itself more than capable of doing so, and maybe Kaplan’s right and we will, but, provided we keep the generation as wealth as everyone’s number one priority, there’s no reason we should have to. America’s leaders, especially the right of center ones, do seem to get this, judging from their own statements.

As for the starve the beast plan, are you saying you think it’s a good idea for the US? I’m not sure why they can’t just cut down the size of government AND taxes at once, instead of running up a debt that needs constant servicing, but I suppose smarter people than me are thinking about these things.

June 21, 2008 @ 6:52 am | Comment

@Cao

Kaplan doesn’t sound like an idiot. More like a pessimist to me, but whatever his take on it, he doesn’t represent the whole conservative establishment. From the horse’s mouth;

“Chinese leaders will do whatever is necessary, no matter how inhumane or offensive to us, to pursue their own interests. And they lead a nation of extraordinary potential, that is, whether we like it or not, becoming a great power. America must engage China if we are to maximize our influence over how that immense nation emerges as a world power. [However]. engagement does not require us to cede to China advantages that come at the expense of our own security.”
John McCain, 1999
http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/John_McCain_China.htm

McCain’s not exactly sweet on the PRC, but his position doesn’t seem that much different than yours. Though perhaps John McCain is a paleo-con too? (He is undoubtedly both paleo and conservative isn’t he?)

Bush and his administration have repeatedly said that the best strategy is to try to make the PRC a ‘responsible global stake holder’ (http://www.state.gov/p/eap/rls/rm/69899.htm), and though it annoys me a great deal that he doesn’t stick up more for the ROC’s democracy (the ROC politics are a hobby horse of mine), he is essentially correct.

By saying, “But by supporting these same idiots and have diversion of US military power and attention to Middle East would mean less meddling in China’s backyard”, it sounds like you agree more with Kaplan’s vision of the future than with the John McCain’s or with the current administration’s to me.
CCT called my views ‘utopian’, but I still maintain that the PRC’s interests and America’s interests are almost identical, as are most of the rest of the world’s. If we want to brandish weapons at each other, our species has proven itself more than capable of doing so, and maybe Kaplan’s right and we will, but, provided we keep the generation as wealth as everyone’s number one priority, there’s no reason we should have to. America’s leaders, especially the right of centre ones, do seem to get this, judging by their own statements.

As for the starve the beast plan, are you saying you think it’s a good idea for the US? I’m not sure why they can’t just cut down the size of government AND taxes at once, instead of running up a debt that needs constant servicing, but I suppose smarter people than me are thinking about these things.

June 21, 2008 @ 7:01 am | Comment

Guys, I know how much fun this thread has been, but I need to close it down. I think we all know where the other stands by now.

June 21, 2008 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

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