Special police armed with machine guns made their first daily patrols at Beijing Capital International Airport on Thursday.
Working in teams of two, the officers are from the airport's security bureau and will be based at all three terminals for the duration of the Olympics.
"The special police will enforce the existing security force's capacity to deal with emergencies in the airport," a spokeswoman for the bureau, who declined to be named, said.
Dressed in black uniforms, to distinguish them from armed police who wear green and ordinary police who wear light blue, the officers have attracted a lot of public attention.
Some people used their cell phones to take pictures of them. "I think they look cool, and you rarely get to see such big guns," a young woman, who declined to give her name, said.
Geng Yuhua, a lawyer from Yishui, Shandong province, who was flying from Terminal 3 on Friday, said he felt happier knowing the special police were on patrol.
"I feel safer with them around," he said.
Other passengers, however, said the presence of police armed with machine guns created an unnecessary air of tension.
The introduction of the heavily armed officers is part of the airport's ongoing plan to beef up security.
According to earlier reports, double fences are currently being around the airport complex and a range of hi-tech devices has been installed in a bid to prevent possible terrorist attacks during the Games.
State-of-the-art bomb-detection equipment, X-ray machines and anti-riot robots were recently installed, and checkpoints will be set up on the main highway approaches to the airport.
(China Daily June 28, 2008)