Say you’re a member of an ethnic minority group that the Chinese government suspects is planning terror attacks during the Beijing Olympics. And say you own a restaurant around the corner from the National Stadium. One day, a researcher from the New York Times shows up and asks if you’d be willing to talk about the harassment you’ve been receiving from the local government. You know better, of course, than to talk to those shady foreign journalists (especially about minority affairs and anything negative about the Olympics), but the situation has become so intolerable that you agree to make a few comments on the condition that the New York Times not identify you. A few days later, the article appears online, with this paragraph:
The owner of the Xinjiang Kashgar Restaurant near the main Olympic venue said he shut down Tuesday after repeated visits from officials who cited health concerns. He said several other Muslim restaurants nearby had received similar visits. The owner, a Uighur, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear that he would be further harassed by the authorities.
[UPDATE 8/5: Somewhere in the night, the New York Times decided to cover its rear end (thanks to several readers and comments for pointing this out). The last sentence of the offending passage was changed to read:
The owner, a Uighur, asked not to be identified by name for fear that he would be further harassed by the authorities.
New, updated post available here.]