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  • Countdown Beijing: New Media Rules Promoted


    Weekly press conferences are set to begin at BOCOG's media center. (ATR) 
    Local Governments Told to Respect New Media Rules

    A top Chinese media official says local governments must respect new rules allowing more freedom for foreign journalists in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics.

    "In the relationship between government and the media, we are promoting a shift from managing the press to serving it, treating reporters as clients," Wang Guoqing, vice-minister of the State Council Information Office, told the China Daily newspaper.

    With the introduction of new temporary rules from January 1, all Chinese regions are compiling handbooks and other information for foreign reporters, Wang said.

    Local foreign affairs departments are also required to produce videos and provide interpreters, travel information and other logistical support, he said.

    Local officials should release "timely, accurate and newsworthy" information and "try their best to be accessible and not deny interview requests".

    But Wang said he was "not quite optimistic" that officials will implement the new rules outside major cities.

    At least 30,000 foreign journalists are expected to travel to China during the 2008 Games, he said.

    BOCOG to Hold Weekly Press Conferences

    Reflecting the more media friendly approach, BOCOG says it plans to hold weekly press conferences from this month.

    The Beijing Olympic Press Center will hold press conferences every Wednesday and provide a "one stop service" for journalists, including 24-hour availability of press officers.

    Olympic Torch to get Everest Rehearsal

    Climbers will rehearse the Olympic torch relay section over the 8,844-metre summit of Mount Everest this year.

    "The torch will be designed specifically in order to burn at such a high altitude, and the design is in its final stage," BOCOG vice president Liu Jingmin told state media.

    "This rehearsal will be very important for a successful torch relay for the Beijing Olympic Games on the world's highest peak in 2008," Liu said.

    The rehearsal is likely to take place in May or September, the months which normally have the best weather for climbing.

    The Olympic torch relay is likely to cross Everest, which is known in China as Qomolangma, in May or early June 2008.

    Liu gave no date but said the 2008 torch relay would be
    broadcast live and take place "during a safe period considering the weather conditions."

    BOCOG said climbers are expected to ascend Everest with the torch from the southern side in Nepal, descending into China's Tibet region.

    Taking the Olympic torch over Everest would be of great symbolic importance for the ruling Communist Party, whose troops took control of Tibet in 1951.

    Party Leader Sacked in Sailing City

    The head of the Communist Party in the eastern Chinese port of Qingdao, which will host sailing events at the
    Climbers will rehearse the Olympic torch relay section over the summit of Mount Everest this year. 
    2008 Games, has been fired for a "serious breach of discipline".

    The government's official Xinhua news agency said the sacking of Du Shicheng, 56, was "another signal of the central government's hard stand against official malpractice and corruption".

    But the agency gave no details of the allegations against Du.

    His sacking follows the dismissal last year of Beijing vice mayor Liu Zhihua, who headed the construction team for the 2008 Olympics.

    BOCOG said Liu's dismissal was an "individual case" that would not affect the ongoing construction of Olympic venues.

    Japanese Coach Joins Synchronized Swimming Team

    Successful Japanese synchronized swimming coach Masayo Imura has signed a contract with the Chinese national team.

    "Imura and [China's] Wang Jie will co-coach the team," Chinese Swimming Association spokeswoman Yu Li said.

    "Our cooperation starts from January 1, 2007, and the contract can be extended pending our results at the Melbourne worlds [in March]," Yu said.

    Imura, 56, has previously coached the French national team and a club team in Osaka, Japan.

    "The most important thing is that we can learn a lot from Imura," Yu said.

    "We believe that she can take us to a higher place at the Beijing Olympic Games."

    Reported from Beijing by Bill Smith

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