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Security check beefed up at Tian'anmen Square
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China has beefed up its security measures at Tian'anmen Square as the number of tourists increase and will only allow limited access to the area for cultural and sports shows and fireworks on Aug. 8, it was announced on Wednesday.

"The square will be open to the public as soon as possible after the morning activities on Aug. 8," said Jia Yingting, the Tian'anmen Square management committee deputy-director, at a press conference.

Some zones in the square will be used for setting up fireworks for the 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony that evening, he said.

"We are working on a plan for setting up fireworks which reduces the impact on tourist visits and the passing of vehicles through the square as much as possible.

"The square is now open to the public till midnight, but all the tourists have to pass a security check before they enter the square."

Jia said security check points were already established both in the underground passages and the ground entrances leading up to the square.

"We will increase and improve the security checks as the number of tourists keep growing."

Tian'anmen Square has been decorated by several flowerbeds to mark the Beijing Olympics and the 30th anniversary of the Reform and Opening-up.

The flower beds are expected to last for four months until after the Oct. 1 National Day. Withered flowers would replaced by fresh ones, said Qiang Jian, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Parks and Woods deputy chief.

He said more than 130 kinds of flowers were selected to decorate the square, and most of the lighting was energy-saving LED (light-emitting diode).

"It is a pity that I might not be able to come here to see the celebration on the opening day," said Jia Xiaohui, a high school student from the eastern Shandong Province.

"I was not lucky enough to get tickets to see the Games. But I still came to Beijing trying to observe more about the Olympics."

There will be numerous cultural and sports shows in the square before the Olympics. They include performances by domestic and foreign college and middle school orchestras between Aug. 1 to 3 and daily mass sports activities from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. between Aug. 4 to 14.

There will also be professional and amateur cultural performances and promotion of China's intangible cultural heritage on Aug. 15, 18 and 22.

Security has also been intensified with an increased number of armed police, security guards and soldiers patrolling the square.

A policeman said the square had been open to the public from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the past few days. "But we will gradually prolong the opening time till midnight."

"The security check made me feel safe, I do not think it troublesome," said Guo Ping, a tourist from the eastern Anhui Province.

"It is quite normal to have the security check," said Chris Ulasic, a Canadian who came to see the Games. "Other host cities did the same thing during the Olympics."

(Xinhua News Agency July 31, 2008)

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