Security in Tian'anmen Square was officially tightened yesterday in a bid to prevent people entering the area with potentially dangerous items.
The "Administration Regulation in the Tian'anmen Area" took effect yesterday.
The key element of the new ruling is that security checks will be made throughout the year, rather than just on special occasions and holidays, as was previously the case.
Anyone entering the square could be stopped and checked, as the process will be random, an official surnamed Li from the legal office of the Beijing municipal government said.
The regulation also states that during the raising and lowering of the national flag, important events, festivals and holidays, "patrols and administration will be strengthened in main thoroughfares and gathering points to avoid too heavy a concentration of people".
"Actually, security checks have been carried out for many years in Tian'anmen and the items identified as dangerous in the new regulation are the same as those in earlier ones. The only real difference is that we are now implementing the ruling much more strictly," Li said.
On the approach to the Olympics, Tian'anmen Square will be a focus for Beijing authorities as they try to avert the threat of possible terrorist attacks.
The new ruling has met with mostly support by locals and tourists.
Wang Li, a student at a Beijing university, said: "I will go there less in the future, not because I am against the checks, which I think are necessary if a bit of a bother, but just because I don't think it is a place to visit too often."
Zhu Yingfei, who lives in Shanghai but plans to visit Beijing soon, said she agreed with the new rule and would still pay a visit to Tian'anmen Square.
"It's a must-see place in Beijing. I agree with the security checks and think that people should support the police, as our safety depends on cooperation from everyone," she said.
Canadian Philip McMaster said he had experienced the new security procedure firsthand.
"I had a meeting to attend and was carrying a large suitcase. The police asked me to open it, but let me go once they had seen there was no problem."
He said he understood the need for the increased security measures.
"When I was in America I got checked much more often than I do in China.
"With the large numbers of people likely to visit during the Olympics, there are bound to be potential dangers, so I understand the need for the checks," he said.
(China Daily May 6, 2008)