Subway security to remain tight

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am

Security checks will become a permanent fixture at Beijing's subway stations as the city seeks to translate measures introduced during the Olympic Games into long-term regulations.

The municipal government's plan to include the measures in the city's public transport regulation comes as China struggles to maintain social stability in a year riddled with several sensitive anniversaries and as the global financial crisis leaves many people jobless.

Xinhua reported yesterday that the municipal government had put forward a draft amended public transport regulation for public review. The draft includes the subway security measures.

Since late July, commuters have been greeted at the entrances of subway stations by security personnel who are, in theory, required to put bags and luggage through X-ray scanners.

Articles such as liquids, guns, ammunition, knives, explosives and poisonous substances are prohibited on the subway.

Under the arrangements, beggars were also banned from soliciting on trains and in stations.

The measures were meant to be temporary, lasting until September, to prevent terrorist attacks during the Olympic Games, but they have remained in place since then.

The arrangements have met with little support from commuters, many of whom say it takes too long to pass through the checks.

Checks have become more lax since the Paralympics in September, with many passengers able to bypass the scanners without being stopped by the security personnel.

But surveillance at major stops such as those near Tiananmen Square remains tight.

Thanks to extreme traffic congestion in the city and the low 2 yuan (HK$2.27) fare, Beijing's subway system is used by millions of commuters every day.

An average of more than 2.6 million passengers a day took the subway in 2007, and during the Olympic Games in August daily passenger traffic rose to around 5 million.

China has stepped up public security this year to thwart any potential instability from events such as the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown on June 4.

Security in Tibetan populated areas was tight around the 50th anniversary of the Tibet uprising on March 10 and the first anniversary of bloody rioting in Tibet on March 14.