Re: Request for community guidance on issue concerning a future meeting of the IETF

Marshall Eubanks <> Fri, 18 September 2009 16:56 UTC

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From: Marshall Eubanks <>
To: Scott Brim <>
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Subject: Re: Request for community guidance on issue concerning a future meeting of the IETF
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2009 12:38:52 -0400
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On Sep 18, 2009, at 12:14 PM, Scott Brim wrote:

> Excerpts from Marshall Eubanks on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 11:42:00AM -0400:
>> Greetings;
>> We have received numerous suggestions and requests for an IETF  
>> meeting
>> in China and the IAOC has been working on a potential China meeting  
>> for
>> several years. We are now close to making a decision on a potential
>> upcoming  meeting in China. However, the following issue has arisen
>> and we would appreciate your feedback.
>> The Chinese government has imposed a rule on all conferences held
>> since 2008 regarding political speech. A fundamental law in China
>> requires that one not criticize the government. Practically, this
>> has reference to public political statements or protest marches,  
>> which
>> are not the IETF's custom. The government, which is a party to the
>> issue,
>> requires that people who attend conferences in China (the IETF being
>> but one example) not engage in political speech during their tour
>> in China. We consider this to be acceptable, on the basis that the
>> IETF intends to abide by the laws of whatever nations it visits and
>> we don't believe that this impacts our ability to do technical work.
>> The rule is implemented in the Hotel agreement and reads (note that
>> the "Client" would be the Host, and the "Group" would be the IETF) :
>>   "Should the contents of the Group's activities, visual or audio
>>   presentations at the conference,or printed materials used at the
>>   conference (which are within the control of the Client) contain
>>   any defamation against the Government of the People's Republic
>>   of China, or show any disrespect to the Chinese culture, or
>>   violates any laws of the People's Republic of China or feature
>>   any topics regarding human rights or religion without prior
>>   approval from the Government of the People's Republic of China,
>>   the Hotel reserves the right to terminate the event on the spot
>>   and/or ask the person(s) who initiates or participates in any or
>>   all of the above action to leave the hotel premises immediately.
>>   The Client will support and assist the Hotel with the necessary
>>   actions to handle such situations. Should there be any financial
>>   loss incurred to the Hotel or damage caused to the Hotel's
>>   reputation as a result of any or all of the above acts, the Hotel
>>   will claim compensation from the Client."
>> What does this condition mean ? The hotel staff would have, in  
>> theory,
>> the legal right to shut down the meeting and ask the offending
>> participants to leave the property immediately. While we do not
>> foresee a situation where such action would take place, we feel that
>> it is proper to disclose these conditions to the community.
> I don't see that.  Is this what they told you?  What I see is:
> - the _conference_ materials shouldn't contain political speech.
>  "which are within control of the client"

In the above,

"the Hotel reserves the right to terminate the event on the spot"

I, speaking just for myself, think that this is extremely unlikely to  
There have been a number of technical meetings in the PRC in the  
recent past,
and I haven't heard of any being shut down. Also, this would be a very  
serious step
for any venue to take, and would likely mean a near termination of any  
future foreign
conference business for them for quite some time to come.

Others, of course, will have to judge this probability for themselves.


> - if an _individual_ does so, that individual may be asked to leave.
> I don't see "if anyone says anything they could shut the conference
> down".
> Scott