Subway checks being enforced

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Three people in Beijing have been detained for refusing security checks and attacking officers at a subway station, making them the first group of people subject to such punishment since the city started checking subway passengers about one year ago, police said yesterday.

The detention comes amid tightened security measures in the capital ahead of the National Day celebration on Oct. 1, and police are calling for more cooperation from passengers to avoid similar confrontations.

The three people, surnamed Xia, Ye and Huang, entered the Wudaokou station of subway line 13 at about 10:30 pm last Thursday. They turned down a check request from security officers, quarreled with them and even pushed an officer to the ground, a release from the city's public security bureau said.

They have been given detention for a period of five to 10 days for disrupting public order, the bureau said.

"This is the first detention case since such checks were adopted about one year ago," said Zhang Huiqun, an officer with the bureau's public transportation security department.

Previously, passengers in disputes with subway security officers were usually released after getting lectured.

Beijing started to check subway passengers at the end of June 2008 to ensure a safe Olympic Games. During the Games, each bag taken into the subway had to be checked. But the rule was loosened after the Games and bags were only randomly checked.

However, as the city is beefing up security to ensure a smooth celebration of the country's 60th anniversary, checks are again being done on all subway passengers and their bags, said Zhang Jinghan, a senior officer with the public transportation department of the city's police bureau.

Some busy stations have been equipped with portable scanners and liquid testing machines as well, he said.

"We hope passengers will cooperate with us, or they'll be declined entry or even detained," he said.

Police figures show that so far this year subway security officers have had 36 disputes with passengers. About 90 percent of the disputes were triggered by passengers' refusal to be checked, while the rest were for improper manners and behavior with security officers, Zhang Huiqun said.

During the same period, about 25,530 dangerous objects were found during subway security checks, including seven imitation firearms and 10,226 pieces of inflammable and explosive materials. About 7,270 passengers have been declined entry, according to police figures.

Passengers said they consider the security measures necessary but also called for higher efficiency during the rush hour.

"I don't mind having my bags checked, and such checks can even make me feel safer," Xia Lan, a commuter, said while waiting for a train at the Huixinxijienankou station of line 5 yesterday afternoon.

"But during the rush hour, people often queue to undergo checks. I hope there could be more machines."

Subway security officers are considering rapid checks for small bags, which means such bags won't have to go through X-ray machines, Zhang Jinghan said.

However, because of the huge passenger flow, passengers with small bags, such as waist packs, can actually escape security checks even now, according to visual checks by China Daily in the past few days.

Beijing subways carry an average of 4 million passengers every day, according to figures from subway authorities.

Celebration rehearsal

Beijing has finished the face-lift of its main road artery, Chang'an Avenue, paving the way for the first rehearsal for the grand celebrations of the National Day holiday to be carried out this weekend.

The widening and resurfacing of the avenue was officially completed Tuesday, more than a month before the country's 60th anniversary celebration. The avenue received its last face-lift 10 years ago for the 50th anniversary of the country's founding.

Workers have repaired and repaved about 12 km of the road that runs across the northern edge of Tian'anmen Square, where a massive military parade is scheduled for Oct 1.

During the five-month makeover, the east-west road was also widened to a 10-lane road that carries much of the cross-town traffic, with old paving slabs replaced and access facilities created for people with disabilities.

However, parts of the avenue will be blocked between Friday night and Sunday morning to make way for the first rehearsal of a mass pageant, which is part of the National Day celebration.

The rehearsal will be divided into three parts, one from 3 am to 5 am on Saturday, another from 8:30 am to 10 am also on Saturday, and the third from 11 pm Saturday to 2 am Sunday, according to the 60th National Day Celebration Preparation Committee of the Beijing municipal government.

The mass pageant will involve about 200,000 citizens and 60 floats, themed "Motherland and I Marching Together", according to the committee.

(China Daily August 27, 2009)

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