Chinese authorities promised to relax internet controls as one of the conditions negotiated with the International Olympic Committee. However, over time, that commitment has been slowly eroded as the Olympics got closer. Chinese authorities later stated that internet access for the foreign press and within the Olympic Village would be unfiltered, implying that their commitment did not extend to the rest of the country. However, the visiting press will now see the internet just as ordinary Chinese do.
Reporters arriving in Beijing and touring the massive new media center were surprised when many sites could still not be accessed, even confronting Beijing Olympic authorities with their lap tops in hand at press conferences. Authorities later clarified the policy on internet access, stating that access to sites containing information about sports and the Olympics would not be blocked, but that other “sensitive sites” would remain inaccessible in Beijing.

Elsewhere, Chinese officials announced this week that China surpassed 253 million internet users by the end of June, topping the United States’ 230 million and becoming the nation with the most surfers in the world. That means that about 1 in 5 Chinese now have access to most of the internet.