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3/26/2008
06:13 PM
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China Denies Claims It Might Bug Beijing Hotel During Olympics

Officials cite security reasons for warning travelers that their rooms may be accessed at any time without their consent or knowledge.

A Chinese government official on Sunday called the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs irresponsible for warning that visitors to the Beijing Olympic Games may be spied upon by Chinese authorities.

"There's no special arrangement which is beyond the security measures widely employed in accordance with international rules at public locations, hotels, and offices in China," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, according to China's Xinhua News Agency.

Last week, the Bureau of Consular Affairs issued an Olympics 2008 Fact Sheet with advice for travelers planning to attend the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. "All visitors should be aware that they have no reasonable expectation of privacy in public or private locations," the bureau warns. "All hotel rooms and offices are considered to be subject to on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times. Hotel rooms, residences, and offices may be accessed at any time without the occupant's consent or knowledge."

The bureau said that in light of recent violence in Tibet and a failed attempted to blow up a passenger jet flying from western China's Xinjiang Province to Beijing in March, U.S. travelers should be aware that potentially dangerous events may occur as the Olympics approach.

The bureau also noted that Chinese cities are relatively safe compared with similar-sized developing cities and that the likelihood of political violence remains low because "Chinese authorities employ an overwhelming police/security presence to ensure that demonstrations remain peaceful."

A note of irony: Even as the United States warns about omnipresent surveillance in China, it continues to defend warrantless wiretapping as critical for national security.

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