New checks on vehicles eased after traffic jams
Cary Huang in Beijing and Woods Li
Beijing police have simplified new security checks on vehicles entering the capital just a day after they were implemented because the heightened vigilance, designed to ensure a safe Olympics, led to severe traffic congestion in some areas.
As Beijing makes final preparations for the August 8-24 Olympic Games, police and paramilitary officers have been stationed at hundreds of checkpoints set up on routes into the capital.
Starting from Tuesday, all vehicles and passengers entering Beijing had to undergo rigorous security checks to ensure no dubious or unwanted people would get into the city.
The heightened vigilance had led to traffic jams on roads connecting Beijing with the cities of Kaifeng , Shenyang and Shijiazhuang , Xinhua said.
In reaction to widespread complaints by drivers, the Municipal Bureau of Public Security announced five new measures as remedies at midnight on Tuesday.
Measures include avoiding repeated checks on vehicles commuting between Beijing and neighbouring regions, setting up a fast-pass lane for already checked vehicles, increasing the number of lanes at checkpoints for vehicles entering Beijing, taking suspicious people or vehicles off the road and handing them over to local police stations as soon as possible, and ordering top officers to be stationed at checkpoints to deal with any emergency.
At the checkpoint in Mizidian yesterday afternoon, checks seemed to be proceeding smoothly. About 20 vehicles filed through a two-lane checkpoint at a major entrance to Beijing from Hebei province and the municipality of Tianjin , southeast of the capital.
Drivers and passengers had to pull up and produce their identification cards or other substantive documents at the checkpoint. They were also ordered to open their boots, glove boxes and big bags for examination. Security officers scanned the inside of each car and truck, including the space under each seat.
The checking process appeared swift, with the examination of each vehicle usually lasting less than three minutes.
But less than 200 metres away, after passing the Mizidian checkpoint, another group of police set up another checkpoint, and all vehicles had to go through further checks, seemingly more serious and much stricter.
One police officer in a bullet-proof vest stood at the end of the checking team, holding a tear-gas gun with muzzle pointing downwards.
Officers declined to explain why the two checkpoints were erected so near to each other.
Five or six drivers and passengers without ID cards were taken into a nearby office building nearby, from which they emerged about 15 minutes later, apparently not in trouble.
'They are just required to make necessary registrations, because they cannot produce reliable ID information,' said one police officer, who declined to give his name.
Public transport vehicles drove through in a separate lane and were subject to quicker examinations.