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The Heartburn Will Linger After The Games Are Over

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If you happen visit China now or in the near future, you will want to be aware that the 2008 Olympic Games are being invoked by the Chinese as an excuse for all manner of administrative changes and new hassles, some of which may affect you personally. Many more of which affect the now quite-large foreign business community. It is probably an Olympic First for the Host Country to go to such lengths to not only roll UP the welcome mat and hide it in the closet, but even to bitch-slap the very people who are responsible for ponying up the funds that make the Games possible (a few of which are themselves Chinese companies, go figure). This takes some pretty Brass Balls. Read the following for an interesting commentary on the train-wreck in progress--specifically, a significant breakdown in the existing equilibrium between the foreign business community and the Chinese government. A business climate that took years to build is, in the space of a year, threatening to head off the tracks and into the weeds. This piece comes from the most recent monthly issue of a reputable, well-established foreign consultancy group here in China. China Briefing

I have spoken first-hand with multiple people in the general hospitality industry (esp in Beijing and Shanghai). Not only are cancellations up and business activity down for the summer, but a number of major multinationals have pulled plans for Fall, 2008 meetings and conventions originally to be held in China--normally one of the busiest business activity periods of the year--and are going elsewhere in Asia where the bureaucratic climate is at least more predictable. Apparently the spring edition of the famous Canton (Guangzhou) Trade Fair was an attendance disaster. Yet another example, and perhaps the one with the most far-reaching consequences, of just how bad the 2001 IOC selection of host country was. Construction of a few spiffy new venues do NOT a Grade A "World Player" make. This Olympics is really hitting a sour note with just about anybody in-country who's not Chinese.

For visitors who can manage to get their visas into China, the upside is that for the summer (including the Games) and probably for a long time after, there will be a lot of empty hotel rooms waiting for you.

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well, Here's the news in Chinese


环球时报6月6日报道 加拿大《环球邮报》6月5日文章,原题:外国人发现奥运前的北京已成禁城 杨·丹尼尔,这位加拿大猎头顾问已在中国工作8年之久,如今却不得不跟其他大批外国人一道离开这个奥运主办国。









签证紧缩已伤及旅游业。4月份到中国的海外游客数量比去年下滑了5.3%。部分旅行社甚至说,即便在奥运会期间,到北京观光的外国人都可能少于去年同期。(作者杰弗里·约克 邱峰译)

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I think it's because of this

Beijing Olympics nuclear 'dirty bomb' fears

The Beijing Olympics could be threatened by terrorists who are trying to obtain nuclear materials in the run-up to the games, the United Nations nuclear watchdog warned today.

Terrorists may use so-called “dirty bombs” to disperse radioactive materials at the event, the International Atomic Energy Authority said as it staged its biggest ever security training exercise in the Chinese capital.

The watchdog told the BBC that the same threats will exist for the London Games in 2012 when a massive security operation will be put in place.

The IAEA said there is no specific information an imminent attack on the Beijing games, but intelligence shows terrorists are trying to obtain nuclear materials.

The possibility that terrorists will use dirty bombs that use conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material is under investigation.

Dirty bombs are not normally associated with high death tolls, but the spread of nuclear material can cause fear and alarm and exposure to dangerous levels of radiation.

During the training and simulation exercise, the IAEA said the same threats would exist in London for the 2012 Games, where organisers are working to ensure a safe and secure event.

An IAEA spokesman said: “We are providing them with assistance with nuclear security, which is par for the course in any big sporting or public event such as this.

“We provide assistance for member states when it is requested.”

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eijing Olympics 'Face Terrorism Threat'


The Associated Press

Tuesday, September 11, 2007; 3:27 PM

BEIJING -- China's top cop said terrorism is the biggest threat at its Olympic Games, and a leading terror expert warned Tuesday that Beijing faces a long-term threat from an Islamic separatist group in its far west.

In remarks appearing on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang said China would seek closer cooperation with other nations in dealing with the threat.

"Although the general security situation for the Beijing Olympics remains stable, we still face the challenges of terrorism, separatism and extremism," Zhou was quoted by the state-run China Daily newspaper as saying.

"Terrorism in particular poses the biggest threat," Zhou told a security conference in Beijing on Monday, the paper said.

Safeguarding the Olympics has been one of the biggest costs and concerns for cities hosting the games in recent years. Greek officials spent a record $1.4 billion on security for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Experts say the terrorist threat to the Aug. 8-24, 2008, Olympics is relatively low, but they warn that Beijing faces a growing threat from Islamic separatists among the Uighur population in the western region of Xinjiang.

However, only one or two terrorist groups are capable of attacks in northeast Asia, and their ability to operate within China's tightly controlled society is very limited, said Rohan Gunaratna, author of "Inside al-Qaida _ Global Network of Terror."

"The threat (to the Beijing Olympics) is medium to low. The threat from the outside is very low," said Gunaratna, who is based in Singapore.

He warned, however, that China's counterterrorism capabilities remain relatively weak, especially in its understanding of groups based outside its borders. "I expect they'll improve a lot before the Olympics," he said.

China has not joined military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, and has not so far been a target of al-Qaida or other Islamic terror groups.

It recently appointed a special envoy to focus on Middle Eastern conflicts, but Beijing's involvement in the region has mainly been limited to economic contacts and calls for a negotiated settlement to the Palestinian question.

Although Uighur separatists have launched occasional bombings and assassinations, the last serious incidents were a decade ago.

In a rare publicized action earlier this year, China said it raided a terror camp in Xinjiang run by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, killing 18 militants it says had links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The Sept. 11 attacks helped dilute U.S. and other foreign criticisms of China's heavy-handed tactics toward ethnic separatists it accuses of terrorism.

However, Gunaratna said the ETIM remained dangerous and was developing stronger links with al-Qaida, changing it from an essentially Uighur nationalist group to one espousing a pan-Islamic ideology. ETIM trains in Pakistan's remote tribal areas and has been spreading its message on the Internet.

Gunaratna estimated the group represents the views of less than 1 percent of China's approximately 50 million Muslims. But he warned that China needed to avoid alienating mainstream Uighurs by improving education and job options and showing more sensitivity to their ethnic concerns.

Interpol said Monday it would help China with security by sending a "major events support team" to the Olympics that will have quick access to Interpol files on fingerprints, images and "wanted persons notices."

Interpol will also provide "threat assessments" on issues relating to Olympic security and international crime, the organization said.

Liu Jing, a vice minister for public security, told the meeting in Beijing that China hopes all 135 cities on the Olympic torch relay route will also help safeguard that event, the China Daily said. Liu was quoted as saying that some organizations and individuals were trying to politicize the games and planned to disrupt the relay.

In one indication of discord, Taiwanese media reported that China has insisted Taiwan's national flag and official emblem do not show up along a proposed 15-mile torch route in Taipei. China claims Taiwan as its territory, and objects to all symbols of sovereignty by the democratic, self-ruling island.

Mia Farrow, a U.N. goodwill ambassador, has labeled the Beijing Games the "genocide Olympics," and has launched her own torch relay through countries with histories of mass atrocities. The actress says China has impeded a solution to deadly ethnic conflicts in Sudan's Darfur region because of its oil interests in that country.

China has legitimate concerns over terrorism at the Olympics, but those are only one facet of its desire to avoid any embarrassment to a regime that has staked enormous prestige on staging successful games, said Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher with Human Rights Watch.

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The visa issue has been a massive headache. You now need (this is for a single entry visa mind you!) confirmed tickets in and out of the country as well as proof of accommodation or hotel bookings covering every night you are in China. Ad on a two page questionnaire about your employment etc and then you need to attach an itinerary.

Lucky for me I renewed my multi-entry visa in March before the crackdown started (that visa is now not available at all to Australians and seeemingly a host of other countries as well) and there are reports of these visas being confiscated upon entry to China and replaced with single entry visas - which is why I have sadly cancelled my planned pre-Olympic trip to Beijing this month. I'm still coming but only in July/August for the Games when it doesnt matter if they take the multi entry visa away.

Previously it was pretty straight forward - put in your application and passport (you needed to give an itinerary if you wanted a multi entry visa otherwise the consulate here was hesitant to issue one) and 4 days later it was approved and ready for pick up.

I have heard a few friends who work in the media but are travelling to China for the Games - not work related (personal holiday) - are having huge difficulties getting a standard single entry visa.

I understand the terorist risk - however most of them seem internal to China. I haven't heard Osama (or Obama!!) threatening the Games. The Uighur speartists have been quiet for a long time and the Tibetans are hardly in a position to do little more than march down Changan Avenue.

The issue with these visa changes is probably felt the most in Hong Kong. I have numerous friends there who head into Shenzhen or to Guangzhou a few times a week for work or for meetings and for some their multi-entry visas expired. They cant get another one and most border crossings do not issue on the spot visas anymore. Business in that region is going to suffer tremendously in the short term.

I appreciate that China wants to keep tabs on visitors and promote a safe environment - however this is not the way to do it.

The Russians streamlined their visa system for the recent UEFA cup match - uif you had a ticket you got a temporary visa upon arrival. The Chinese could have put this in place and shown a far more accomodating and open face to the world instead of succumbing to blatant xenophobia yet again. It saddens me - I love China and really want as many people as possible to visit and experience the place. This policy is seriously turning people off.

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