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China’s Great Firewall to Remain Up During the Olympics

Over the past few months organizers of the Beijing Olympics promised international media that they would have “complete freedom” to report the event, which includes removing censorship of the internet. However, China is hesitant on letting go of its iron grip, with many criticizing China’s commitment to the Olympic pledge.

Technology Minister Wan Gang spoke during a press conference after the Mount Everest torch relay saying while the China would be able to grant as much access as possible, there would be no way that the government would turn off its firewalls.

“China has always been very cautious when it comes to the Internet,” Gang said. “I’ve not got any clear information about which sites will be shut or screened. But to protect the youth there are controls on some unhealthy websites. We will guarantee as much as possible. Every country limits access to some websites. Even in developed countries not every site can be accessed.”

Just one month ago the International Olympic Committee had to remind China of its Olympic obligation as host to allow press the ability to freely report the event. The committee was persistent in its efforts to push the government into opening the Internet during the games. At times, the committee was optimistic about China would hold up on its end of the bargain.

"We would hope that people in China would be able to have access to all forms of information that are out there, including those that are available online. And that would apply to those who are full-time residents of China as well as those who might be visiting for the Olympics," said State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

As a kicker to the situation, officials said that they would make no guarantee that the Olympic trademark would not be infringed. Many are worried over unlicensed clothing and accessories with the Olympic logos would be sold on the streets during the games. "The law enforcement authorities are not able to guarantee that infringement never happens. What we are trying our best to do is combat it and crack down when we find it," said Liu Zhengang, head of the Beijing IPR Bureau.