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Beijing beefs up security to ensure safe Games
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With the Olympics just around the corner, final preparations are under way in Beijing and surrounding areas to deal with possible threats, including terrorism.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping said on Saturday that security should be the top priority when providing service for guests coming to the Games.

"It's necessary to carry out an exercise on the whole process of services for the arrival, departure, room and board of our Olympic guests, discover the loopholes and problems in each area and make relevant adjustments," he told the press during an inspection tour of a new rail link connecting Beijing Capital International Airport with downtown.

Xi's call came just a day after the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau offered handsome rewards for information on major security threats during the Olympic Games.

To "mobilize the enthusiasm of the masses in maintaining public security, as well as to control and eliminate hidden dangers to the Olympic Games," residents who report substantial information on major threats from July 10 to Oct. 31 would get rewards of 10,000 yuan (about 1,460 US dollars) to 500,000 yuan.

Land forces of the People's Liberation Army based in Beijing and three neighboring military area commands would help to safeguard the Games, according to Tian Yixiang, an official with the Security Command Center for the Games of the 29th Olympiad.

The host cities had also planned to set up a no-fly zone, prohibited and restricted areas near the competing venues at sea.

Potential airborne threats would be warned and intercepted, according to Tian.

Before any event at sea started, frogmen would conduct underwater inspections, he said.

The deputy director of the Beijing municipal fire bureau, Luo Yuan, told the Beijing News on Saturday that fire fighters in the city were for the first time asked to deal with terrorist attacks and emergencies.

The fire fighters could be called on to help deal with terrorists who used nuclear or chemical weapons and explosives, he said.

The bureau had also organized 46 counter-terrorist drills in Olympic venues and subway stations, he noted.

But preventing terrorism was only part of the job. Cheng Guangmin, a senior officer of the Beijing fire general brigade, said the city had developed a four-step plan to bring fires under control within 10 minutes, according to the Beijing News.

Firemen near the Olympic venues were supposed to reach the scene within one minute, and fixed extinguishing facilities should be in use within three minutes, he said.

Fire engines near the Olympic venues should be mobilized within 10 minutes to extinguish any fire, he said.

Beijing residents also felt the presence of Olympic security measures as the city launched subway security checks on passengers late last month.

At major intersections, armed police are on alert. They are assisted by community volunteers wearing red armbands identifying them as members of the Olympics safety patrol.

The one month run-up to the Games also witnessed the Olympic host city gearing up security forces to sweep 90 sports venues, 110 Olympic contracted hotels, 700 km of sports tracks, the Olympic athletes' village and 2,000 sites for Olympic-themed activities, to eliminate any security loopholes.

An anti-terrorist force of nearly 100,000 commandos, police and troops is on high alert, according to sources with the Security Command Center.

(Xinhua News Agency July 14, 2008)

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