Beijing rooms bugged

March 21, 2008, 8:58AM
U.S.: Olympics spectators may be under surveillance

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The State Department is advising Americans planning to attend the Olympic Games in Beijing to take care and be mindful that they could be under surveillance.

“All hotel rooms and offices are considered to be subject to on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times,” the department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs advised on Thursday. “Hotel rooms, residences and offices may be accessed at any time without the occupant’s consent or knowledge.”

The warning was part of an Olympics “fact sheet” that also said the threat level for terrorism against Americans in China remains low, although recent violence in Tibet is an example of how potentially dangerous events can occur in the approach to the Olympics in Beijing and other Chinese cities.

“Any large-scale public event like the upcoming Olympic Games could become the focus of terrorist acts or other forms of violence,” the bureau said.

However, it said there was no reason to believe Americans were being targeted at this time.

“Travelers are strongly encouraged to be aware of their surroundings while in China,” the statement said. “Continued vigilance is necessary to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime.”

Separately, the White House said China’s crackdown in Tibet will not cause President Bush to cancel his planned trip to the Beijing Olympics.

At the same time, the administration interceded on behalf of Tibetan protesters and requested a firsthand look at how Chinese police were dealing with them.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi Wednesday night for about 20 minutes, urging restraint and also Chinese talks with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans’ spiritual leader.

The State Department’s warning to travelers comes amid rising tensions over the Chinese crackdown. The Chinese generally are sensitive to outside criticism, and they consider hosting the Olympics a coup.

In part of the warning “fact sheet” that focused on privacy and safety, the State Department office warned Americans that “they have no reasonable expectation of privacy in public or private locations.”

The State Department also warned that hotels, apartments and other buildings might be fire and safety hazards.

“Many hotels and apartment buildings may be of substandard construction, lack emergency exits, fire suppression systems, carbon monoxide monitors and standard security equipment (locks, alarms, and personnel),” the statement said, suggesting Americans review fire evacuation procedures.

Americans were also advised to keep their passports out of the reach of pickpockets, and to be wary of Olympics tickets scams.

And State noted that Americans returning home with fake or pirated goods could face fines or have to turn in any illegal booty.

“In many countries around the world, including China, counterfeit and pirated goods, including medications, are widely available,” the notice said. “Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.”

Americans with dual Chinese citizenship were counseled to travel on their American passport so that the U.S. consular affairs office can help them if they are arrested or detained by local authorities for any reason. “U.S. Embassy and Consulate officials are often denied access to arrested or detained Americans who do not enter China using their U.S. passport,” the statement said.

no different than the way it was with the former Soviet block countries.

I’m not surprized, China is one of the most repressive “forward thinking” countries on the planet. How were they awarded the games again?


Perhaps on the justification by the megalomaniacs on the IOC that the reason the USSR collapsed was because the Olympics drove a glaznost knife into the heart of Moscow 11 years earlier in 1980.

Then again, the DDR never hosted an Olympics and the Berlin Wall tumbled in late 1989 - a few years before the Iron Curtain was torn open.

I’m iffy on the exact dates, but 89 and 91 seem about right.