Beijing reminds foreigners to behave during Olympics

BEIJING Mon Jun 2, 2008 4:41am EDT

A paramilitary policeman stands guard as competitors in the Good Luck Beijing Race Walking Challenge pass the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing April 18, 2008. REUTERS/David Gray

A paramilitary policeman stands guard as competitors in the Good Luck Beijing Race Walking Challenge pass the National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing April 18, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

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BEIJING (Reuters) - The organizers of this summer's Beijing Olympics on Monday reminded foreigners coming to China for the Games to behave, warning them that everything from protesting without permission to sleeping outdoors was banned.

The extensive list, written only in Chinese and put on the organizers' official website (www.beijing2008.cn), also said that purchase of Olympics' tickets did not guarantee the holder would automatically get a Chinese visa.

Entry would be banned to anyone who was intent on "subversion" upon arriving in China, those with mental illnesses and sexually transmitted diseases and people who wished to engage in prostitution, the rules read.

"Foreigners must respect Chinese laws while in China and must not harm China's national security or damage social order," the rules say.

The stability-obsessed government, determined to ensure the Olympics go off without a hitch, has in the last several months tightened controls on visas, residence permits for foreigners, and places of entertainment.

The handbook warns the estimated 500,000 overseas visitors who are expected to come to Beijing this August that China is still a country with many off-limits areas and beholden to bureaucracy and public security organs.

"Not all of China is currently open to foreigners, and if foreigners do not have permission they should not go into areas not opened it," it reads.

"Foreigners must carry with them relevant documents. The police, in the course of doing their job, have the right to check foreigners' passports and other documents," the handbook says, adding foreigners must register with the police upon arrival.

The government has denied keeping a blacklist of what it considers potentially troublemaking journalists, but is desperate to avoid activists from human rights or pro-Tibet groups from staging protests at the Games, hence tougher visa controls.

"Foreign spectators will not necessarily automatically get visas just because they have bought Olympic tickets, and still need to apply for visas in accordance with the rules at Chinese embassies," the list says.

The handbook also outlines six activities which are illegal at cultural or sporting events, which include waving "insulting banners", attacking referees or players and smoking or lighting fireworks in venues.

And you can forget about sleeping outdoors to save a bit of money.

It's banned, in order to "maintain public hygiene and the cultured image of cities".

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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