As part of its 2001 bid to host the Games of the 29th Olympiad, promises were made by Beijing to allow foreign media to report freely in China in the lead up and during the Games.

 

However with recent tightening of media regulations, news outlets have been shut down and journalists have been arrested or demoted resulting in worries over a clamp down on press during the Olympics.

 

On Sunday, regulations restricting foreign media from distributing stories that were thought to be harmful to China were issued by the state-controlled Xinhua news agency.

 

The foreign ministry moved to allay fears that these measures would reduce the foreign media’s freedom when reporting on the Games.

 

"With the Olympic Games approaching, there will be more journalists coming to China to report," ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

 

"We are open to their visits. We want to create a favorable environment and provide facilitation. We have done this in the past and we will do this in the future."

 

"These regulations do not cover the reporting of foreign journalists in China during the Olympic Games, therefore it does not run counter to the commitment of the Chinese government in the bidding of the Olympic Games," Qin concluded in a briefing.

 

Xinhua also received the sole right to distribute and release all foreign news content inside China, with analysts suggesting that the recent regulations were nothing new, seeing them as further strengthening Xinhua's monopoly on foreign news distribution.