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At this year's Olympic Games, China proved to be an outstanding host, and won the most gold medals. But is China bold enough to take on an even bigger challenge: fulfilling the human rights commitments they made when they were awarded the Games? The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) hopes so, with its campaign calling on China to extend the relaxation of its media regulations for the Olympics that are due to expire on 17 October.

Way back in 2002 when China was bidding for the Olympics, it promised it would relax reporting restrictions for foreign journalists. Sure enough, effective 1 January 2007, China introduced new rules that allowed foreign reporters greater freedom to travel the country and to interview anyone who was willing to be questioned. Even though they were widely disregarded by the authorities, limited improvements to China's media freedom record resulted.

Sadly, even these regulations are set to expire next week.

WAN is calling for the new rules to continue - and for them to be extended to include both foreign and Chinese journalists. They are also calling for the rules to be enforced, "which was not always the case before and during the Olympics."

The hiccups were many - the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China documented more than 336 cases of interference in media reporting since the regulations came into force (as witnessed in Tibet, reporting on the Sichuan earthquake and the most recent tainted milk powder scandal).

"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.

WAN is encouraging newspapers and other media to join the campaign for more press freedom in China by publishing new advertisements that demand the authorities to honour their Olympic pledges. They are available in English, French, Spanish and German here:

(8 October 2008)

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