China's newly relaxed restrictions on foreign reporters could be extended beyond 2008.
Cai Wu, director of the Information Office of China's Cabinet, hinted Thursday at a further loosening of the rules, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
"If the new regulations prove beneficial to our development and to exchanges between us and foreign media, and if they aid communication with the international community, then I imagine there will be no need to change the policy," Cai said, responding to a reporter's question.
The rules abolish decades-old restrictions on foreign reporters' ability to travel and conduct interviews in China. Under the new guidelines, which were announced four weeks ago, only the consent of the person to be interviewed will be needed.
However, Cai pointed out that while he personally backed a possible extension of the new rules, it was not government policy.
The new rules on reporting during the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics take effect on Monday _ New Year's Day _ and run until mid-October 2008.
"Many changes have taken place in China and in the world since the 1990s regulations were issued. We needed to bring the regulations up to date," Cai said, noting the "Olympic Games provided us with a good opportunity to adjust the regulations."
The communist government hopes the Olympics will polish China's international image, and expects largely positive coverage from the Games.
While relaxing rules for foreigner reporters, the government has also cracked down on domestic media and Internet essayists, seen as threats to its authority.