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Cablegate: Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics: Usg Situation Report

VZCZCXRO5435
OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #3216/01 2340830
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 210830Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9410
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK IMMEDIATE 6348
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL IMMEDIATE 0890
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE IMMEDIATE 9510
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 2175
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG IMMEDIATE 0570
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RHMFISS/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 06 BEIJING 003216

NOFORN

SIPDIS

DEPT, FOR, DS/IP/EAP, DS/DSS/DO, DS/TIA/OSAC, DS/P/MECU,
DS/TIA/ITA, DS/DO/P, DS/ICI/CI, DS/T/ATA, DS/TIA,
DS/TIA/PII, DS/CC, EAP/CM, S/CT, CA/OCS/ACS/EAP, PASS TO
TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (TSA) OPERATIONS
CENTER, HONG KONG FOR RSO AND LEGAT AND USSS, SHANGHAI FOR
RSO, SHENYANG FOR RSO,CHENGDU FOR RSO, GUANGZHOU FOR RSO,
USSS HQS FOR INV, OPO, HNL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/21/2038
TAGS: ASEC CASC CH CMGT ECON KOLY OVIP PREL PTER
SUBJECT: BEIJING 2008 SUMMER OLYMPICS: USG SITUATION REPORT
21, 08/21/2008
REF: A. BEIJING 3049
B. BEIJING 3171
C. BEIJING 3200
D. BEIJING 3117
Classified By: Acting DCM Michael Regan for reason 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (SBU) The following cable provides information on security, public diplomacy, political, and consular activities related to the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games as of 08/21/2008.

2. (U) The interagency USG Joint Operations Center (JOC) can be contacted on a 24-hour basis at the following numbers: XXXXXXXXXXXX

KEY ISSUES
----------

3. (SBU) The USG Delegation to the Olympics Closing Ceremony--headed by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt--is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on 08/21/2008. Delegation members also include former State Department Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes and former Olympian Michelle Kwan--who are already in Beijing to attend the Games--as well as U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) President Peter Ueberroth, and the U.S. Ambassador to Beijing.

4. (U) Typhoon Nuri continues to move through the South China Sea on a northwesterly heading; the storm--which is currently sustaining winds of approximately 90 miles per hour--is expected to make landfall approximately 125 miles from Hong Kong on the evening of 08/21/2008 and the morning of 08/22/2008. Current estimates indicate that Hong Kong and the southeastern coast of China will be hit with tropical storm strength winds and rain throughout the day on 08/22/2008 before the storm is projected to dissipate on 08/23/2008, the day before the Olympics Closing Ceremony. The final Olympics Equestrian event in Hong Kong is scheduled to take place on the evening of 08/21/2008.

SECURITY ISSUES
---------------

5. (S/NF) Threats: Update on Threat to U.S. President: The Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) in mid-August told U.S. officials of its findings regarding four telephone numbers possibly associated with a plot to conduct an attack against the President of the United States during the Olympic Games (ref. a). Two of the numbers reportedly were no longer working, one was connected to an associate of a World Uighur Congress (WUC) member, and one was associated with the former wife of a Norway-based East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) member. In response to a U.S. request for more information about the travel of an ETIM member between Dubai, Hong Kong, and Beijing, the MSS claimed its investigation did not reveal the individual had entered or exited China, but noted it was continuing to investigate. The U.S. President departed Beijing on 08/11/2008 without incident. (For additional information, please see TD-314/061931-08, dated August 20.)

6. (S/REL to USA, IESC) Incidents: China Reportedly Detains 35 Pakistanis: According to an 08/20/2008 article in the Lahore Daily Times Online, Chinese authorities have detained 35 Pakistanis visiting China on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack to disrupt the Beijing Olympics. Chinese officials reportedly sent a letter to the Pakistani Government requesting detailed information on the arrested individuals. Separate classified tearline reporting (ref. b) had indicated on 08/18/2008 that "thirty-three suspected terrorists may attempt to cross the border between Pakistan and China with the intention of sabotaging the Beijing Olympics. The suspected terrorists are of Chinese and Pakistani descent and are allegedly being sent by various unnamed terrorist organizations." At the 08/20/2008 Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) press conference, the MFA spokesman, responding to a reporter´s question, said the MFA has "no relevant information" on the reported detentions but offered to help update reporters on developments. For analytical context and comment on this reporting, please refer to the Threat Integration Center (TIC) 0500 Olympic situation report dated 08/20/2008, which is available via the National Counterterrorism Center´s NCTC Online site.

7. (S) Report of Explosives in Shanghai: According to tearline language, "Olympics security forces in Shanghai were dispatched to neutralize a possible explosive device on 08/19/2008." The JOC has no additional information to confirm this report. Please refer to the Threat Integration Center (TIC) 1700 Olympic situation report dated 08/20/2008--available via the NCTC online site--for analytical comment.

8. (SBU) Update on Possible Beijing Truck Explosion: On 08/20/2008, the USG Open Source Center identified an Internet posting from an alleged eye-witness to the reported 08/17/2008 truck explosion at a Beijing security checkpoint (ref. c). In his statement, the witness claimed that a truck caught fire and exploded in front of his bus at the Baimiao inspection station; if accurate, this information appears to undermine the statement made by the Hong Kong Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy that the incident was terrorism-related. In response to a request made by the Olympic Security Coordinator (OSC) on 08/20/2008 for additional information on the alleged truck explosion (ref. c), the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) has denied that the incident occurred.

9. (SBU) Olympic Protests: Two More Americans Detained for Pro-Tibet Protest: Shortly after midnight on 08/21/2008, a California-based "Students for a Free Tibet" (SFT) activist--who has previously notified the U.S. Embassy of detained American protesters--informed American Citizen Services (ACS) that two more SFT protesters were taken into custody by the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) for unfurling a Tibetan flag and chanting "Free Tibet" at the corner of Beichen and 4th Ring Roads near the Olympic Sports Center Stadium. A German-Tibetan national and a UK citizen were reportedly detained with the two Americans. ACS made telephonic and written inquiries to the PSB seeking confirmation of the detentions. With this incident, a total of 35 American activists have been detained for staging pro-Tibet protests since 08/06/2008.

10. (SBU) Six Americans Remain in Detention: Separately, six other U.S. citizens remain in custody following their detention on 08/19/2008 in conjunction with an attempt to use lasers to project "Free Tibet" messages on buildings. (Note: Three of these detentions were reported in ref. c. End note.). Phone calls made to ACS by friends and family of the Americans reveal that the six are part of a group called "Free Tibet Reporters" (FTR) that has been filming and supporting SFT protest activities in Beijing. The PSB is handling this group differently than other pro-Tibet protesters; while SFT protesters to date have all been deported within 24 hours of their detention, all six FTR members remain in police custody two days after being picked up by the PSB. Persistent calls by ACS to the PSB on 08/21/2008 revealed that the PSB plans to keep this group in administrative detention for 14 days. ACS continues to press the PSB to provide consular access to the six on 08/22/2008.

11. (SBU) Five Americans Deported: On 08/20/2008, the Beijing PSB informed ACS that the five U.S. citizen protesters who unfurled a blue LED "Free Tibet" banner on 08/19/2008 (ref. c) had been deported to the United States via an Air China flight at 1300 hours local time on 08/20/2008. According to a PSB source, Americans detained for pro-Tibet protests are not held in regular detention centers and are instead taken to out-of-the-way locations such as a hotel or work unit until they are deported via commercial aircraft.

SECURITY OPERATIONS
-------------------

12. (SBU) Update on FLO Security Efforts: As high-profile U.S. Olympic teams move into medal competition, the focus of the USG Field Liaison Officers (FLO) stationed at Olympic venues throughout Beijing has increasingly turned to crowd and access control coordination with Chinese security personnel. In upcoming days, the U.S. Women´s Soccer, the Men´s and Women´s Basketball, the Men´s and Women´s Water Polo, the Women´s Softball, the Women´s Indoor Volleyball, and the Men´s and Women´s Beach Volleyball teams are scheduled to compete in gold medal rounds; the majority of these teams have attracted large crowds of fans during movements to and from the Olympic venues and, in the case of Men´s Basketball, individuals without proper credentials have been allowed into secure team areas on at least two occasions (ref. b). FLO coverage is being adjusted to ensure maximum security support for these teams. In addition, the OSC will meet with Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS) officials on 08/22/2008 to again emphasize the importance of a robust police presence for crowd and access control measures during gold medal competitions.

13. (SBU) Equestrian Teams Begin Departure: According to the Regional Security Officer (RSO) in Hong Kong, as of 08/21/2008, U.S. Olympic Equestrian team members and horses have begun departing from Hong Kong. The remaining riders are scheduled to depart on 08/23/2008 and 08/26/2008, following the final day of competition on 08/21/2008.

14. (SBU) Peak Travel Days at BCIA: According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) representative assigned to the JOC, 08/25/2008 and 08/26/2008 will be peak travel days in terms of departures at Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA). TSA noted that the surge of Olympic departures will correspond to the beginning of arrivals for the Paralympics and will likely put a strain on airport services. The Paralympic Games are scheduled to begin on 09/06/2008.

15. (SBU) Arrival of Vancouver OSC: Diplomatic Security´s OSC for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games arrived in Beijing on 08/20/2008; he is coordinating with the Beijing OSC to review JOC and FLO operations in light of similar efforts planned for the Vancouver Games.

VIPS
----

16. (U) Departure of Swimming Sensation: The USOC confirmed that Michael Phelps--the U.S. swimmer who won 8 gold medals in Olympic competition--departed Beijing early on 08/21/2008. According to the USOC, Phelps is traveling to London prior to returning to the United States.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS/PUBLIC DIPLOMACY
-------------------------------

17. (U) Cultural Outreach: The U.S. Embassy´s Public Affairs Section (PAS) organized musical performances by two American bands as part of the effort to promote American culture during the Olympics. The first group, Sugar Mama and the Cotton Band, performed on 08/20/2008 at the U.S. Ambassador´s residence for a group of business leaders, current and former Olympians, and other guests. On 08/21/2008, Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Trio--a well-known band with ties to China--held two performances in Beijing. The first performance at the American Center for Educational Exchange was for an audience of Chinese students from universities throughout Beijing, as well as officials from the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China Academy of Social Sciences and the Foreign Affairs Association. The second performance, held at the USOC´s USA House, was for U.S. athletes and their invited guests. Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Trio are representing the United States in the Cultural Olympiad, the official cultural program of the Olympics.

CONSULAR AFFAIRS
----------------

18. (SBU) American Released on Bail: The U.S. citizen involved in an altercation with a taxi driver 08/13/2008 (ref. c) was released on bail on 08/20/2008. According to the Beijing PSB, if his family can reach a financial settlement with the taxi driver, charges against the American could be dropped.

19. (U) Chinese Tour Guide Released from Hospital: On 08/20/2008, China´s state-run press agency, Xinhua, reported that the Chinese tour guide injured in the 08/09/2008 attack against U.S. citizens at Beijing´s Drum Tower was released from Sino-Japanese Hospital on 08/18/2008. Beijing Municipal Health Director Deng Xiaohong stated that the woman received chest wounds in the attack but that she had fully recovered; he also dismissed recent press reports that the tour guide had died on 08/12/2008 (ref. c).

POLITICAL AFFAIRS
-----------------

20. (U) Human Rights: UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown will raise human rights issues when he meets with senior Chinese leaders during his visit to Beijing for the Olympics Closing Ceremony, according to a letter released by Brown´s office.

21. (U) MFA Press Conference: During a regularly scheduled press conference on 08/20/2008, Chinese MFA spokesman Qin Gang said all protests require approval of the Public Security Bureau. However, pro-Tibet independence activities will not be welcomQ by the Chinese people. Qin claimed to have no information on reports that two elderly women were sentenced to reeducation through labor following repeated applications to protest. (Please see Beijing 3208, dated August 20, for more details)

22. (U) Dutch Radio Station Evades Censors: The Dutch commercial broadcaster Radio 538 on 08/19/2008 continued to defy both the Chinese censors and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by broadcasting live from Beijing during the Olympic Games, according to a Dutch radio report. Officially, the only Dutch broadcaster registered to broadcast from Beijing during the Olympics is public broadcaster NOS. Unlike officially registered broadcasters, Radio 538 is not required to send its feed through the Olympics Broadcast Center, where Chinese authorities could theoretically censor its output. Instead, Radio 538 is using a complex system of integrated service digital networks (ISDN) telephone lines to transmit its broadcasts out of Beijing and to foil authorities´ attempts to block its transmissions. Radio 538´s connection with its Beijing studio has been down for only 20 minutes on one day since the beginning of the Olympics, according to the Dutch radio report.

RANDT

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