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Scanners, dogs launch Beijing subway watch
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Subway passengers will face checks by scanners, police, dogs and 3,000 specially trained security guards under a security clamp that comes into force Sunday.

All subway stations will be subject to the checks until September 20, as part of the security for the Olympics and Paralympics.

Guns, ammunition, controlled knives, flammable material, explosives and radioactive and poisonous articles will be the focus of the checks.

"The measures have been taken to maintain public order and ensure a smooth Olympics," a subway spokesman said.

In addition to police, the Beijing Mass Transit Railway Operation Co Ltd has trained about 3,000 people for the security checks, he said.

"Passengers who reject security checks or insist on carrying dangerous articles will be refused entry or exit and may even be punished by law," he said.

Police said passengers would have to drink bottled water and other beverages they carried into the subway if security scanners and police dogs could not identify them.

According to Chinese laws and regulations, passengers are banned from carrying dangerous substances on board public transport, including buses, subways, trains and aircraft. Offenders can be detained for five to 15 days.

Beijing will host the Olympic Games from August 8 to 24 and the Paralympics from September 6 to 17.

The capital has five subway lines with 140 kilometers of track, transporting millions of passengers daily.

The security clamp follows the start of a month-long inspection of the city's 66,000 taxis, which began on June 12.

Some drivers have complained the checks are too strict and have begun avoiding busy areas like Beijing Railway Station where they are likely to encounter inspectors. As a result, the line of people waiting for cabs can be up to 100 meters.

A driver for the Jinjian Taxi Company said he tried to avoid going there. "There are inspectors," he said. "If they give me a notice for punishment, I would have to pay a fine of 200 yuan (about US$28.60). I gross only 400 yuan a day."

He said one driver was fined after an inspector found a hair on a seat.

Yue Xiujun, of the Beijing Transportation Law Enforcement General Team, said all fines accorded with regulations.

(Xinhua News Agency June 30, 2008)

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