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Fortress Beijing: Security steps for the Olympics

July 10, 2008

Sify (India)
July 8, 2008

China, which says it has already cracked domestic terror plots
targeting the Olympics, has taken sweeping steps to secure the Games
against protests or attacks.

By relying on its armed forces, Beijing hopes to pay less than a
third of $1.8 billion previous-host Athens paid for security.

Here are some facts about security at the August 8-24 Games.

SCREENING VISITORS

- Visa rules have been tightened. Travelers must now show a return
air ticket and a hotel booking before buying a visa.

- Hong Kong, host of Olympic equestrian events and a major gateway to
China, has created a watchlist of unwelcome activists, and brought in
new visa restrictions ahead of the Games.

Full Coverage: Beijing Olympics 2008

- Interpol is to give Beijing airport and other major border entry
points access to its database of more than 14 million lost or stolen
travel documents.

SECURITY CAPABILITIES

- A 100,000-strong security force, including the elite Snow Wolf
Commando Unit, is already on alert for terrorists.

- 300,000 surveillance cameras watch the city.

- Since May, the team of People's Liberation Army (PLA) engineers in
charge of Games security checks and emergency rescues has run daily
drills on finding and defusing explosives, rescuing and evacuating
people from damaged buildings.

- The United Nations nuclear watchdog has trained Chinese security
personnel to respond to radiological attacks - such as a "dirty bomb"
- in which radioactive material is released.

OLYMPIC VENUES

- At least two surface-to-air missile launchers were set up in late
June about a kilometer south of the Bird's Nest National Stadium.

- Authorities pledged to revamp public emergency shelters by the
venues last October, saying 20 to 30 new shelters, with room for 1.5
million to 2 million people, were needed every year.

- Gas stations within 300 meters of Olympic venues and all
Games-designated gas stations must install video surveillance
equipment and "explosion-prevention devices".

- Unmanned spy planes will fly over the east coast city of Qingdao,
host of sailing events, to scan for "suspicious activities".

BEIJING CITY

- Random identity card and passport checks have increased.

- Stringent security is in place on public transport with spot checks
on bottled drinks, and x-ray machines and sniffer dogs deployed in
subway stations to check commuters' luggage.

- Liquids, matches, and lighters have been banned in hand luggage on
domestic flights since officials said crew foiled an attempted
airline bombing in restive Xinjiang province in March.

- Fireworks have been banned from the Chinese capital for three
months from July 1; and some bars and restaurants close to Olympics
venues have been told to shut down.

- To prevent food safety problems or sabotage, inspectors will be
posted in factories making food for the Olympics.

RESTIVE REGIONS

- With authorities keen to present China as a harmonious nation,
rights groups say restive western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang have
seen controls tightened.

- Deadly riots in Tibet in March, and in southwest Weng'an county,
Guizhou, in late June, have highlighted social strains and prompted a
new stability drive.

- Local officials have been ordered to defuse petition campaigns by
discontented citizens to prevent "mass incidents" such as riots and
demonstrations.

- In late June, Shanghai, which hosts some soccer qualifiers, banned
dissidents, petitioners and other "controlled" people from leaving
the city during the Games.
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