Jim Yardley‘s dispatch from Beijing this morning in the New York Times, “China Sets Zones for Olympics Protests,” notes that China’s authoritarian rulers are setting up roadblocks, via permit requirements and the like, for protesters at the Olympics.
Bureaucratic obstacles? Designated areas for protesters? Monitoring of dissidents? Sound familiar? Here’s part of Yardley’s story:
Liu Shaowu, director of security for Beijing’s Olympics organizing committee, said Ritan Park, Beijing World Park and Purple Bamboo Park would be designated for protesters during the Games and that the approval process would be regulated by Beijing’s public security bureau.
“The police will safeguard the right to demonstrate as long as protesters have obtained prior approval and are in accordance with the law,” Mr. Liu said during a news conference.
For China, these plans represent a drastic loosening of its reins. Still, Beijing’s Finest are acting the way New York’s Finest did in 2004, and Liu Shaowu sounds like Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Remember the 2004 GOP Convention? The Times doesn’t.
Don’t blame Yardley. His editors should have at least put in some reference to how similar Beijing’s restrictions for 2008 are to New York’s for 2004, when protesters at the GOP convention were herded like cattle, faced insurmountable bureaucratic obstacles, and weren’t even allowed to gather in Central Park.
Just a sentence or two in this morning’s story to remind readers of the restrictions in New York City during a similarly large, politically charged event. Is that too much to ask? Yes.