Chinese President Says Country Will Honor Olympic PromisesBy Daniel Schearf
01 August 2008

China's President Hu Jintao has said Beijing will honor its Olympic commitments but that the Games should not be politicized. His comments came as the government removed blocks on some websites. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

Hu Jintao (file photo)The Chinese president met with more than 20 select foreign journalists Friday, exactly one week before the Olympic Games open in Beijing.

Mr. Hu responded to critics who say Beijing has failed to live up to human rights and press freedom promises it made when selected to host the Summer Olympics.

Chinese officials had said hosting the Olympics would improve China's human rights situation and that journalists coming to cover the Games would have the same freedoms given by past Olympic hosts.

However, human rights and free press advocates say Chinese authorities have continued to silence dissidents and harass journalists.

Mr. Hu repeated the government line that the Olympics should not be politicized.

He says it is only inevitable that people from different countries and regions may not see eye to eye on some issues. He says they should discuss such things on an equal footing to narrow differences and expand common ground on the basis of mutual respect.

The rare question and answer session was carefully stage-managed with reporters having to submit their questions in advance.

Earlier this week foreign reporters at the Olympic Media Center complained certain web sites were still blocked despite promises of "unfettered" access during the Games.

Kevan Gosper (file photo)The International Olympic Committee press chief Kevan Gosper had said they made a deal with Chinese officials that the internet would continue to be censored during the Olympic Games.

On Friday he backtracked, saying it was a misunderstanding, that no deal was made, and that the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee has agreed to unblock some websites.

"We put a team together in the IOC working with BOCOG to commence unblocking sites that we believe were unreasonably blocked," said Gosper. "They include sites like BBC China, Deutsche Welle, Amnesty International."

Foreign media and human rights websites previously blocked, but accessible Friday, included the Voice of America's Chinese version and Reporters Without Borders.

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