An anti-terrorism expert has been appointed executive vice-minister of public security amid intensified efforts to ensure a trouble-free Olympic Games.
The ministry's website on Sunday night posted news of the appointment of Yang Huanning, former member of the standing committee of the Heilongjiang provincial Party committee and secretary of the province's political and law committee.
He returns to the ministry ahead of the Olympics because of his rich experience in police affairs, especially in anti-terrorism, ministry sources said.
In charge of the country's counter-terrorism affairs before moving out of the ministry in 2005, Yang will now be responsible for not only anti-terrorism operations, but also day-to-day affairs.
His predecessor, Bai Jingfu, was named deputy director of the internal and judicial affairs committee of the National People's Congress in March.
Experts see Yang's appointment as the latest move to beef up security for the Olympics.
"As the Games draws near, it's becoming clear that the government has made anti-terrorism operations its top priority," said Li Wei, director of the anti-terrorism research center of China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
"Yang's appointment to such a key post will strengthen such efforts further."
Li said: "To me, he's more of an (counter-terrorism) expert than an official."
Though senior police officers have warned of "real terrorism threats to the Olympics", the measures taken by the government should ensure a safe Games, Li said.
A four-day State-level anti-terrorism drill was completed in Beijing over the weekend to test the city's emergency response capacity and establish better coordination among security forces including the military, police and medical teams.
Also, 40 anti-terrorism teams have been established in the capital to deal with possible biological or chemical attacks, bombings, and nuclear or other radioactive accidents, Xinhua reported. They will be on round-the-clock alert from July 1.
In April, the ministry said it foiled the attempts of two terrorist groups in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to kidnap foreigners and carry out suicide bombings during the Games.
(China Daily June 17, 2008)