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WAN calls on government to extend relaxation of media regulations put in place for Olympics

(WAN/IFEX) - The following is a 1 October 2008 WAN press release:

World's Press Campaigns for Chinese Freedoms after the Olympics

The World Association of Newspapers has called on the Chinese government to extend the relaxation of its media regulations for the Olympics beyond the 17 October expiry date.

In the run-up to the Olympics, China introduced new rules that allowed foreign journalists greater freedom to travel in the country without prior government permission, and to interview anyone who was willing to be questioned. Those regulations are set to expire on 17 October.

WAN called for the regulations to be extended, for both foreign and Chinese journalists, and for the government to ensure that the regulations would be enforced, which was not always the case before and during the Olympics.

WAN also asked China to honour the promises it made in its successful Olympic bid to allow more freedom of expression. Not only did China fail to honour its commitments, it increased its repression of free expression and press freedom, and continues to imprison and harass those who dare speak openly.

The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation of the world's press, is encouraging newspapers and other media world-wide to join the campaign for more press freedom in China by publishing new advertisements that highlight Chinese repression and call on authorities to honour their Olympic pledges.

The campaign advertisements, available in both print and website formats in English, French, Spanish and German, can be found at http://www.wan-press.org/china/home.php .

"Now that the Games are over, and the world's attention is elsewhere, it is more important than ever to draw attention to the complete lack of press freedom in the world's most populous country, which continues to jail more journalists than any other," said Timothy Balding, CEO of WAN.

More than 30 journalists and at least 50 cyber reporters are imprisoned in China, and the country's media are under total control of the authorities.

"The Olympics may be over, but China should still be held to its promises," said Mr Balding. "The authorities must allow for freedom of expression both among journalists and ordinary citizens."

WAN is encouraging newspapers world-wide to publish the new advertisements and to engage and inform their readers. Hundreds of newspapers have already joined the campaign, as have thousands of readers who participated in a letter-writing campaign. For full information, visit http://www.wan-press.org/china/home.php .

The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry, defends and promotes press freedom and the professional and business interests of newspapers world-wide. Representing 18,000 newspapers, its membership includes 77 national newspaper associations, newspaper companies and individual newspaper executives in 102 countries, 12 news agencies and 11 regional and world-wide press groups.

For further information on the relaxation of media regulations during the Olympics, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95925

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