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Restrictions in place for Summer Games

By David C. Henley

Nevada Appeal News Service

BEIJING, China ” The 29th Olympic Summer Games begin here in less than two months and this city’s 17 million residents are being warned to dump some of their unpleasant personal habits during the two-week extravaganza which begins August 8.

Beijing’s newspapers, radio stations and television channels are issuing daily pronouncements to the inhabitants of this sprawling capital city of China on how to conduct themselves during the games to avoid embarrassment before the estimated 500,000 spectators, 18,000 athletes and coaches and 7,000 members of the world media expected to attend the games that end August 24.

For example:

Beijing’s citizens have been forewarned not to “hawk” or spit in public during the games. Theyave also been ordered nto to take their shirts off in public no matter how hot it gets. Cutting in line and littering are also no-nos.

Smoking is being curbed as well, and there are new rules in place forbidding smoking in hotel lobbies, sports venues, restaurants and bars (unless separate smoking rooms are provided), and in hospitals, schools and public buildings.

Large industrial polluters have been told to cut smoke emissions during the games in an effort to reduce the pall of smog that constantly hovers over the city.

Beggars and derelicts already are being rounded up and banished to the suburbs where no Olympic visitors are expected to venture.

Government and public buildings have been given scrubbings and thousands of flowers have been planted along freeways and city thoroughfares.

Hundreds of immaculate western-style toliets have been erected throughout Beijing, replacing filthy “squat-type” toilets formerly seen here. The new toliets also are being outfitted with toliet paper, a rarity in China. (People visiting public restrooms in China have traditionally been expected to provide their own toilet tissue or go without).

Taxicab drivers, waiters and others dealing with the public have been told by the police that they will be dealt with harshly if they overcharge and cheat their customers.

Amid these warnings come admonitions from the government that public demonstrations in favor of Tibetan independence and on behalf of the thousands of victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre here also will not be tolerated.

Beijing residents have been told to avoid discussions with visitors to the Olympic Games about other sensitive subjects such as the nation’s censorship of the Internet, the jailings of political dissidents and other human rights abuses.

Foreign visitors to Beijing and other Chinese cities already have experienced restrictions relating to their travel in China even before the Olympics being on August 8.

Police have been conducting spot checks of foreigners’ papers and travel documents and have been making it particularly difficult for younger visitors from the West whom they believe might sponsor demonstrations for Tibetan independence and on behalf of the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The authorities, as well. are on the lookout for Olympic visitors who also might demonstrate against China’s restrictions on the freedom of religion. Protests by Chinese citizens also will be firmly dealt with by the police, and potential demonstrators have been told they face job losses and even imprisonment if they raise their voices against the government during the Games.

While there ahve been on direct threats against American visitors to the Games, the U.S. State Department ahs issued an advisory that U.S. citizens in Beijing should be aware that their hotel rooms could be searched and their telephone conversations bugged during the Olympics.

“All hotel rooms and offices are subject to on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times with the occupant’s consent or knowledge,” said the warning. The advisory also cautioned that “any large scale public event like the Olympic Games could become the focus of terrorists acts or other forms of violence.”

Meanwhile as the Games’ August 8 opening ceremony rapidly approaches, Beijing restaurants that serve dog meat are being told to curb this practice at least during the two-week Olympic period.

The eating of dog meat by millions of Chinese and its serving at many of the nation’s restaurants is a common practice in China. Dogs destined to be eaten are raised on special farms and are slaughtered between the ages of six and 12 months.

Dog meat usually is steamed or roasted and prepared in stews flavord with turtle meat. Animal protection groups have been formed in some of China’s larger cities to halt the eating of dogs, but the practice has not been curtailed to any meaningful extent.

David C. Henly is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle-Standard. He and his wife, Ludie, recently returned from nearly a month in China.