Corruption is not only a Chinese thing - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 08-16-2008, 05:34 AM Thread Starter
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Corruption is not only a Chinese thing

by Charles Whelan
Sat Aug 16, 3:34 AM ET

BEIJING(AFP) - A thriving black market in tickets was operating Saturday outside the main Olympic venues with money openly changing hands despite China's claim of a crackdown on scalpers.

Dozens of Chinese ticket touts were working the crowds and attracting brisk business under the noses of police officers, some even holding banners advertising the tickets they had for sale.

"Uniformed and plainclothes police are hanging around to keep public order mainly, but they are also watching us," said Zhou Haixin, a clothing salesman from Shandong province in northern China.

"I'm here making a bit of money on the side," he said as he offered tickets for athletics finals for later Saturday at more than 10 times their face value.

Chinese and foreigners from around the world were among the buyers, with many punters searching in vain to gain entry to the "Water Cube" to see US swimmer Michael Phelps' shot at a record-equalling seventh gold medal.

Tickets for Saturday's diving semi-finals with China's golden diva Guo Jingjing were selling for 4,000 yuan (580 dollars), up from the orginal price of 150 yuan.

However entrance to the "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium to see Chinese track icon Liu Xiang defend his title in the 110m hurdles on Thursday would cost upwards of 5,000 yuan.

Olympic organisers have said that every ticket for the events in Beijing was sold out in advance, but many visitors have complained that venues are half empty during competition.

Scalping Olympic tickets is illegal in China and authorities have repeatedly vowed to get tough on touts.

On Friday Beijing police detained 110 people, including at least one foreign national, for touting Olympic tickets near Games venues, state media reported.

The official Xinhua news agency said 340 tickets were seized in the raid which took place after "many complaints from the public" about touting.

It quoted a police officer as saying a Dutch national was found selling 24 tickets at 10 times the face value near the "Water Cube".

Near the same spot on Saturday a police officer who did not give her name told AFP the crackdown had been effective and "many" touts were in jail.

But many others were still selling tickets for athletics, table tennis, swimming, football and boxing although foreign touts appeared to be fewer in number than in preceeding days.

The ticket black market has been set up on roads and under bridges around the perimeter of the Olympic Green, which encloses the main Olympic venues.

Only ticket holders can get into the green though tight security and large crowds mingle outside along with touts and street hawkers selling flags, banner and memorabilia.

"They picked on the foreigners and there are not that many of us left," said a Dutchman who described himself as a professional tout who often travels to major international sporting events around the world.

"But I'm thinking of leaving the Beijing Olympics. The police are getting a bit annoying."

A tout from France was sweating heavily and nervously looking over his shoulder as a crowd of Chinese looking for tickets surrounded him.

"We like foreigners because they sell cheaper than Chinese," said one Chinese punter.

Two Chinese ticket sellers were picked up and locked inside a police car and wads of tickets were confiscated from them as witnesses looked on.

The arresting officer refused to comment on the detention of the two young men.

But another tout, working a nearby street within sight of the main Olympic Stadium, said: "They will be held for a day or two and then released. They will probably be back here on Monday."


People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf - George Orwell
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