Beijing begins checking subway passengers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 June, 2008, 12:00am

Beijing's increased subway security to thwart possible terrorist attacks during the Olympics takes effect today.

The municipal government is imposing a series of strict checks on all subway passengers' belongings from now until September 20.

Several days ago, signs asking passengers with luggage to co-operate and a list of prohibited articles were posted at subway station entrances and in passageways leading to platforms.

The main targets of the checks are guns, ammunition, knives, explosives, and radioactive and poisonous substances.

In addition to advanced X-ray surveillance scanners and equipment to check liquids, specially trained police dogs will be deployed to sniff out possible hazards.

It is estimated that more than 3,000 security personnel will be deployed at all subway stations throughout the city.

The news was met with disappointment by some subway passengers.

'After hearing the news on the internet, I felt kind of unhappy because it is not an effective way to fend off security threats targeting the Olympic Games,' regular passenger Yan Fuchang said. 'The measures show that the Chinese government is excessively sensitive and nervous.

'Such a stepped-up security measure is unnecessary and falls foul of the harmonious Olympic Games advocated by the government.'

Some staff members working at subway stations also voiced displeasure.

'I am not sure we will have enough time to check passengers with heavy luggage, especially during rush hour,' a subway guard said.

'Problems with the machines may cause delays for the tides of passengers and security personnel might be unfamiliar with operating them at first. Delays might cause fatal stampedes or pick-pocketing.'

As early as last Thursday, more armed guards began patrolling Beijing airport. They carry pistols while patrolling the terminals and will be on hand until the end of the Olympics.

'The subway and airport are equally important. If a disaster happens it will be too late for regret. So I totally support the government's move,' one passenger said.