The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) issued Legal Guidelines for Foreigners Entering, Exiting and Staying in China during the Olympics on June 2. 

The guidelines were “compiled in accordance with existing laws and regulations as a reference for foreign athletes, officials, journalists, and others to understand and abide by Chinese laws and regulations.” The eight categories addressed are:

(I.)              Basic Legal Principles and Regulations

(II.)           Entry and Exit Control

(III.)        Concerning Residence and Accommodation

(IV.)        Transportation

(V.)           Shopping, Traveling, Entertainment and Other Consumer Activities

(VI.)        Concerning Medical Treatment

(VII.)     Intellectual property protection of the Olympic logo

(VIII.)  Special Notes 

The group, Human Rights in China ( has translated the document into English from the Chinese original on the official Web site of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games (  At press time, no official English translation has been issued by BOCOG.   The Guidelines are at once specific and vague.  For instance, there are specifications of what a foreigner should do “if he or she gets ill (such as diarrhea or vomiting) after eating or drinking at a restaurant, or other establishments” but when addressing areas prohibited for travel within China the answer is a vague: “Not all parts of China are presently open to foreigners. Foreigners without the appropriate permission should not travel to prohibited areas.”  There is no indication which areas are prohibited (although one could reasonably assume that one such area is Tibet). 

Following is a sampling of the 57 questions addressed in the Guidelines.


Entry and Exit Control


8. Which categories of foreigners are not permitted to enter China? (1) Those who have been deported from China with stipulations that they are forbidden to enter China for a fixed number of years;(2) Those who are believed to potentially engage in terrorist, violent, or subversive activities after entering China;(3) Those who are believed to potentially engage in smuggling, narcotic trafficking, or prostitution after entering China;(4) Those who are suffering from a mental disorder or insanity, sexually-transmitted disease, or an infectious disease such as active tuberculosis;(5) Those who cannot guarantee they have the money necessary for expenses during their time in China;(6) Those who are believed to potentially engage in other activities that may harm the national security and interests. 

13. What items are prohibited from being brought into China? (1) Weapons, simulated weapons, ammunition and explosives;(2) Counterfeit currency or negotiable securities;(3) Items which may harm China’s political affairs, economy, culture, or morals, such as publications, undeveloped film, pictures, recordings (music), movies, cassette tapes, videotapes, laser discs, computers, etc;(4) Deadly poisons;(5) Addictive narcotics and psychotropic substances, including opiates, morphine, heroin, and marijuana;(6) Animals, plants, or other produce which carry harmful germs, pests, or other dangerous organisms;(7) Food, pharmaceuticals, or other items which can hinder the health of humans or animals, which come from epidemic areas or which can disseminate infectious diseases. 

15. Can foreigners bring pets into China? Every traveler is restricted to one animal, either a cat or dog, per entry. The cat or dog must pass through quarantine and inspection before entering China.  

Concerning Residence and Accommodation 

22. May one sleep in public areas in cities? In order to maintain public hygiene and the civilized appearance of urban areas, sleeping in airports, bus or train stations, docks, sidewalks (including overpasses and underground walkways), green areas in the city, and other public places is strictly prohibited. 

Shopping, Traveling, Entertainment and Other Consumer Activities 

31. How does one complain if he or she gets ill (such as diarrhea or vomiting) after eating or drinking at a restaurant, or other establishments? The incident should be reported to the health supervising department; if quality of food is poor, a complaint may be made to the local consumer protection association. A request may also be made for the Industry and Commercial Administration to inspect the suspect restaurant or establishment. 

32. Is all of China open to foreigners for travel?  Not all parts of China are presently open to foreigners. Foreigners without the appropriate permission should not travel to prohibited areas. 35. What are China’s main public places of entertainment? Public places of entertainment, including [sic] include nightclubs, dance clubs, erotic dance clubs, karaoke bars, discos, arcades etc, are open to the public as places of business for patrons to enjoy themselves. 

36. What are the regulated business hours for places of entertainment?Public places of entertainment are not permitted to operate between the hours of 2:00 am and 8:00 am. 

Special Notes 

47. In cultural, sports, or other large-scale mass activities, can slogans, banners, or other items be displayed? China forbids the display of insulting slogans, banners, and similar items in sports venues, and forbids the display of any religious, political, or ethnic slogans or banners in Olympic stadiums. Advertisements must be genuine and lawful and not misleading and deceitful. However, in Olympic stadiums, in the absence of permission from the International Olympic Committee and the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee, any form of commercial advertising or any commercial advertising slogans, banners, or similar items are prohibited. 

50. How should one deal with a person who is drunk? If a person who is drunk poses a threat to himself/herself, another person, or the general public, public security authorities should adhere to safety measures and restrain the person who is drunk until he/she is sober. 

55. Are rallies, demonstrations, or protests permitted? To hold a rally, demonstration, or protest, one must apply to do so at the Public Security Office in accordance with law. Without permission, one may not hold a demonstration or conduct any related activities. Anyone who instigates or plans an illegal rally, demonstration, or protest and does not listen to orders to stop such activities, shall be administratively sanctioned or criminally punished in accordance with law. 

The full text of the Legal Guidelines for Foreigners Entering, Exiting and Staying in China during the Olympics can be found at the following Web sites:Chinese document source: English translation prepared by Human Rights in China: (Date: June 2, 2008)                               

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