She's not a Tibetan activist, a human-rights watchdog, or a political correspondent. So why couldn't Karen Coates, a food writer for Gourmet, get a visa to cover the Beijing Olympics? She recounts the mind-numbing bureaucratic hoops she jumped through to submit her application, which seems to have vanished into a black hole. "That’s how the Chinese government says 'no.' You don’t exist."
After months of slogging through paperwork and calling the Chinese consulate, Coates came up empty-handed, while her photographer husband got the go-ahead. "Was it something I said?" she wonders. "About Tibet, for a newspaper eight years ago? Or, more recently, comments on my personal blog? ... Who knows? Not me. And the Chinese won’t tell me."