As the Tibet riots and protests continue AP is reporting that Chinese officials are placing virtual ‘Wanted’ posters for 21 rioters in Tibet on the several major Chinese web portals – a link to one is here.
The Chinese are cranking down hard on the region in attempt to manage the situation that’s been brewing since 1949. Plus with it being the year the Chinese are hosting the Olympics I’m sure they’re more than slightly freaking out.
China might bar live television broadcasts from Tiananmen Square during the Beijing Olympics, apparently unnerved by the recent outburst of unrest among Tibetans and fearful of protests in the heart of the Chinese capital.
A ban on live broadcasts would wreck the plans of NBC and other major international networks, who have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to broadcast the Aug. 8-24 games and are counting on eye-pleasing live shots from the iconic square.
The rethinking of Beijing’s earlier promise to broadcasters comes as the government has poured troops into Tibetan areas wracked by anti- government protests this month and stepped up security in cities, airports and entertainment venues far from the unrest.
In another sign of the government’s unease, 400 American Boy Scouts who had been promised they could onto the field following a March 15 exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres were prevented from doing so by police.
“It was never specifically mentioned to me it was because of Tibet that there were extra controls, but there were all these changes at the last minute,” said a person involved in the Major League Baseball event who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The communist government’s resorting to heavy-handed measures runs the risk of undermining Beijing’s pledge to the International Olympic Committee that the games would promote greater openness in what a generation ago was still an isolated China. If still in place by the games, they could alienate the half-million foreigners expected at the games.
Like the Olympics, live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square were meant to showcase a friendly, confident Chinaâ€”one that had put behind it the deadly 1989 military assault on democracy demonstrators in the vast plaza that remains a defining image for many foreigners.
“Tiananmen is the face of China, the face of Beijing so many broadcasters would like to do live or recorded coverage of the square,” said Yosuke Fujiwara, the head of broadcast relations for the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Co., or BOB, a joint-venture between Beijing Olympic organizers and an IOC subsidiary. BOB coordinates and provides technical services for the TV networks with rights to broadcast the Olympics, such as NBC.
Earlier this week, however, officials with the Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee, or BOCOG, told executives at BOB that the live shots were canceled, according to three people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
“We learned that standup positions would be canceled,” one of these people said. “No explanation was given for the change.”
Sun Weijia, the BOCOG official in charge of dealing with BOB, declined comment, referring the matter to press officers, three of whom also declined to comment. IOC offices were closed Friday for the Easter holiday; two spokeswomen did not immediately return e-mails and phone calls seeking comment.
The decision by BOCOG may not be final. The change was relayed verbally, one person said. All three hoped that IOC President Jacques Rogge and other leading IOC officials, expected in Beijing next month for regularly scheduled meetings, may be able to prevail on BOCOG to change its mind.
If the decision stands, it would be a blow to the TV networks whose money to buy the right to broadcast the games accounts for more than half the IOC’s revenues. The biggest spender is NBC. It paid $2.3 billion for the rights for three Olympics from 2004 to 2008â€”Athens, Turin and Beijing.
NBC planned to use Tiananmen as the site of its morning “Today” show.
Officials at NBC did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
The unrestâ€”which broke out March 10 in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and has since spread across western Chinaâ€”and the government’s harsh response underscores the communist leaders’ unease as the Olympics approach.
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