Stay calm, don't touch it, move away quickly and send a text message to police, possibly with a photograph. That's how police want people to respond when they see something that looks like a bag with explosives.
The advice is part of a new anti-terrorism manual the Ministry of Public Security has prepared in the run-up to the Beijing Olympic Games.
It is the first government warning that addresses the public and tells it how to tackle a situation in case of a terrorist attack.
People have welcomed the new manual, available on the Internet and at some police stations from last weekend.
"It's really a timely book. It tells us when and where to be aware of danger, and how to protect ourselves," Zhang Jun, head of the security staff of the Chengwaicheng Furniture Mall, said yesterday after getting a few copies of the manual from Xiaohongmen police station.
Liu Wancheng, head of a neighborhood committee in Beijing's Fengtai district, said he would write the manual's warning tips and how to handle a potential attack on a blackboard. "I think the public should know about them."
The manual tells people how to react during 39 possible situations, including an explosion, shooting, hijacking, and chemical or nuclear attack.
"The book is practical. If people follow its instructions, they can escape or even prevent a terrorist attack," the public security ministry has said on its website.
Terrorism remains a real threat to the Games. Only last week, Ma Zhenchuan, director of the Beijing public security bureau, said the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, labeled as a terrorist organization by the UN in 2002, poses a "real threat" to the Olympics because investigations show it has been plotting attacks on Olympic venues.
Li Wei, director of the anti-terrorism research center of China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said yesterday that the manual would raise public awareness on counter-terrorism.
"Compared with hardware such as advanced weapons, software like public awareness and emergency plans are more important in the fight against terrorism," said Wang Dawei, a professor with the Chinese People's Public Security University.
Li, however, said the manual could have provided more information on how to deal with public panic after an attack. "The book focuses too much on actions to be taken but doesn't tell people how to face their fears," he said.
The public should not get paranoid. "Instead, we should feel confident (to face any situation)," he said. "Terrorists can be identified and nabbed if the public is vigilant."
(China Daily July 23, 2008)