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  • Beijing Update -- Press Rules Relaxed, Olympics Chief Sentenced to Death


    10/20/08

    Wang Chen said foreign media would be allowed greater liberties when reporting in China.
    Foreign Media to Enjoy Press Freedoms

    Enduring press freedom could be a legacy from the Beijing Olympics.

    A Chinese government official said on Friday that the relaxed restrictions on foreign journalists during the Games would be made permanent.

    Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, said members of the foreign media would no longer need permission to travel within the country, interview citizens or renew press cards every year. However, permission is still needed to travel to Tibet or other sensitive areas.

    Wang said the rules "answer the question about whether the Olympics' reporting arrangement would be made permanent.

    "This is a very important move drawn on the experience of providing services and managerial help for foreign journalists during the Olympics. They underline the government's determination to further open up, and reflect the idea of maintaining an orderly opening-up policy and effective management."

    Wang made the announcement at the opening of a research center named after Israel Epstein, a foreign journalist who became a Chinese citizen.

    "The government welcomes the foreign media and reporters. We hope more reports on the country are published across and broadcast to the world. We will spare no effort to provide help and service to them," Wang said.

    "We hope, too, that the foreign journalists abide by Chinese laws and professional ethics and file unbiased and just reports and promote understanding and cooperation between China and the rest of the world," he said.

    Corrupt Olympics Construction Chief Could Face Death

    The former Beijing vice-mayor charged with overseeing construction for the Olympics was sentenced to death Saturday for corruption.

    State media reported over the weekend that Liu Zhihua was given a two-year suspended death penalty for corruption and graft charges. A suspended death penalty means if the 59-year-old Liu "shows good behavior, his sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment."

    Until 2006, Liu was in charge of administering Beijing’s Olympic renovation but was unceremoniously stripped of his position and cast out from the Communist Party when
    Liu Zhihua was in charge of overseeing construction for the Beijing Olympics. (Getty Images)
    he was linked to corruption.

    It was reported that in the seven years Liu was vice mayor in Beijing’s university district, he took more than $1 million in bribes. He also lived in plush opulence with several mistresses paid for with dirty money. Xinhua reported, "Liu abused his power to get contract projects, loans and offer promotions for others in exchange for profits."

    Other news reports said the disgraced Liu spent much of his free time in his self-described Xanadu that was "full of luxury villas belonging to senior Communist Party officials and rich business figures" in the mountains outside Beijing.

    While corruption is rampant within the oligarchic Communist Party, they pledged to have a clean administration of the Olympics, making Liu's case embarrassing on a local and international level.

    His lawyer said he had not decided if they would appeal the case.

    Written by Ed Hula III.

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