Chinese Approve Zero Protest Permits, Confiscate Bibles – Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
For the most part, the Olympic Games have gone well. The major achievements, such as Michael Phelps’ 8 gold medals and Nastia Liukin & Shawn Johnson finishing 1-2 in the all-around, have received most of the attention. Still, there are a few other stories out there that remind us that the Chinese people don’t quite have the same freedoms that we are accustomed to having here in the United States.
In what originally appeared to be a small gesture of freedom of speech and assembly, the Chinese government had said that protesters would be allowed to do so, but only in certain areas around Beijing. While this is still not completely free speech, such protest zones are sometimes used in other Western countries as well. On paper, it sounded like the Chinese were being somewhat open – but then here comes the bureaucratic red tape.
Of the 77 protest applications filed for the Olympics, guess how many were approved? If you guessed zero, you get a gold medal! So far, 74 applications were "withdrawn," meaning the potential protesters disappeared and will never be seen again, 2 applications were "suspended," meaning the potential protesters disappeared and will never be seen again, and 1 application was vetoed, meaning the potential protesters disappeared and will never be seen again.
Meanwhile, members of an American Christian group called Vision Beyond Borders are sitting at a Chinese airport, refusing to leave until Chinese authorities return the 300 Bibles that were confiscated from them. Under Chinese law, bringing religious material that is not intended for personal use is prohibited. One Chinese official said, "Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of religion in accordance with the law." Sounds like this group is lucky they are still even in the airport.
Which brings up the point that is unfortunate, but foreigners have to respect. If you go to a foreign country, you have to obey their laws, no matter how idiotic you might think they are. If you don’t, then you are taking a huge risk, since a country that doesn’t have the same 1st Amendment rights as the United States most likely doesn’t have 4th through 8th Amendment rights either.
After Bibles seized, U.S. group won’t leave Chinese airport [CNN]
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