China has decided to set up a 'people's police force' for its airlines as an anti-terrorism measure. The China News Service quoted an unidentified official from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) as saying the new force would be assigned to different airlines to 'ensure safety of the aircraft, just like their counterparts on trains'. The official did not specifically say if these 'air policemen' would carry weapons. All officers assigned to guard passenger trains are armed. The decision was made public yesterday at a work conference, which was organised by the CAAC in Beijing, China News Service said. CAAC director Liu Jianfeng was quoted as saying air safety had become a priority problem for the administration and the Government in ensuring national stability. 'In order for the CAAC to be able to carry out reforms smoothly, this air safety is a prerequisite,' Mr Liu said. The director said that although the CAAC achieved a safety record of 19 'accident-free' months, more needed to be done to ensure passenger safety. He also said all passengers in restricted areas in airports, and their luggage, must be subject to security checks. Airports must also be equipped with X-ray machines which could detect explosives. In particular, he said many small and medium-sized airports in western provinces still lacked equipment for safety checks. The CAAC director singled some airlines' freight services out, saying they were a weak link and 'hidden danger'.