China will not quell the fears of many over Internet censorship in the coming Beijing Olympics, saying it does not guarantee that it will not censor online coverage of the event. The country’s officials had promised complete

freedom to the media regarding the coverage of the event, but its strict control of the Internet has many in doubt over the sincerity of such remarks.

China has been lauding the coming summer games as the “high-tech Olympics,” promising that broadband wireless access will be available throughout the country.

Still, the government’s strict policing of the Internet troubles many who do not foresee China opening up the Internet pathways for the games.

"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 Web sites,” said Technology Minister Wan Gang.

The Unites States government has voiced its concern over coverage of the event. “"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,” said State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

He added that unrestricted coverage of the event should be available to “full-time residents of China as well as those who might be visiting for the Olympics."

China is home to the fastest-growing online population, but strict Internet regulations prohibit its users to access certain Web sites. Those aimed against the Chinese government and its policies cannot be accessed.

Most recently, coverage of the protests in Tibet were tightly controlled by the government, as very few news stories featured the same violence and scope of information as that in the international media.

A symbol of international peace, the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be a symbol of international tension if it decides to censor coverage of the summer games.

By Danny Scuderi
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