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Foreigners attending the Beijing Olympics better behave -- or else

July 24, 2008

All About Hawke's Bay (New Zealand)
Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Foreigners attending the Beijing Olympics better behave -- or else.

The Beijing Olympic organizing committee issued a stern, nine-page
document Monday that covers 57 topics.

Written in Chinese only and posted on the official Web site, the
guide covers everything from a ban on sleeping outdoors to the need
for government permission to stage a protest.

Visitors also should know this:

* Those with "mental diseases" or contagious conditions will be barred.
* Some parts of the country are closed to visitors -- one of them Tibet.
* Olympic tickets are no guarantee of a visa to enter China.

Fearing protests during the August 8-24 Olympics, China's government
has tightened controls on visas and residence permits for foreigners.
It has also promised a massive security presence at the games, which
may include undercover agents dressed as volunteers.

The guide said Olympic ticket holders "still need to visit China
embassies and consulates and apply for visas according to the related rules."

The government hopes to keep out activists and students who might
stage pro-Tibet rallies that would be broadcast around the world. It
also fears protests over China's oil and arms trade with Sudan, and
any disquiet from predominantly Muslim regions in western China.

"In order to hold any public gathering, parade or protest the
organizer must apply with the local police authorities. No such
activity can be held unless a permit is given. ... Any illegal
gatherings, parades and protests and refusal to comply are subject to
administrative punishments or criminal prosecution."

The document also warns against the display of insulting slogans or
banners at any sports venue. It also forbids any religious or
political banner at an Olympic venue that "disturbs the public order."

The guidelines seem to clash with a pledge made two month ago by
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, who said
athletes could exercise freedom of speech in China. He asked only
that athletes refrain from making political statements at certain
official Olympics venues.

"Freedom of expression is something that is absolute," Rogge said in
Beijing in April. "It's a human right. Athletes have it."

The detailed document is titled: "A guide to Chinese law for
Foreigners coming to, leaving or staying in China during the
Olympics." This appears under the slogan of the Beijing Olympics:
"One World, One Dream."

For months Chinese authorities denied there had been any change to
visa regulations, but recently acknowledged that rules had been
amended. The changes may have little affect on some of the 500,000
foreigners expected to visit for the Olympics, many of whom will come
on package tours with visas already arranged.

The rules published Monday say entry will be denied to those "who
might conduct acts of terrorism, violence and government subversion
... and those who might engage in activities endangering China's
national security and national interest."

The rules also bar entry to smugglers, drug traffickers, prostitutes
and those with "mental diseases" or contagious conditions.

The document also warns foreigners that not all areas of the country
are open to visitors. One such area is Tibet, which is also off
limits to journalists.

"Not all of China is open to foreigners, and they shall not go to any
venue not open to them," the statement said.

The guide also spells out a long list of items that cannot be brought
into the country, including weapons, imitation weapons, ammunition,
explosives, counterfeit currency, drugs and poisons. It also
prohibits the entry of materials "that are harmful to China's
politics, economics, culture and morals".

Foreigners staying with Chinese residents in urban areas must
register at a local police station within 24 hours of arriving. The
limit in rural areas is 72 hours.

The guide also threatens criminal prosecution against anyone "who
burns, defaces ... insults or tramps on the national flag or insignia."

For those planning on sleeping outdoors to save a little money --
forget it. This is banned to "maintain public hygiene and the
cultured image of the cities."
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