Jiang Zemin

Jitters over abandoned suitcase highlight tight security

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 March, 1999, 12:00am

HEAVILY armed police sealed off an area near a central Beijing shopping centre yesterday, fearing an abandoned suitcase could contain a bomb.

It was a false alarm, but it was indicative of security surrounding the NPC session.

China has been rocked by at least seven bombings this year which have killed 33 people and injured more than 100.

The attacks take place against a backdrop of social discontent and economic slowdown in a year which is studded with sensitive political anniversaries, including the 10th of the Tiananmen massacre and the 50th of communist rule.

Millions of urban labourers have been laid off as China reforms antiquated state-run industries and unemployment is high in the countryside.

Violent crime has risen along with joblessness.

President Jiang Zemin has vowed to 'nip in the bud' any threats to social stability.