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Xinhua Insight: China wages "regular" war on terrorism

English.news.cn   2014-05-25 22:18:45

BEIJING, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Vowing that terrorists must be "hunted down and punished", Chinese authorities are knitting together a security network with regular armed police patrols in streets, strict guarding of crowded sites and heavy crackdown on terrorists in the far west Xinjiang.

This reminds the public of the increased security during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games when more than 100,000 anti-terrorism officers were on high alert.

But now it is different. While the Olympics always had an end, anti-terrorism schemes and measures to deal with today's security situation are becoming a regular practice accompanying everyone's lives.

The Ministry of Public Security said on Sunday Chinese police will start a year-long nationwide anti-terror operation, asking police in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and in the rest of the country to cooperate and launch a strong and joint offensive against terrorism.

During the campaign which will last until June 2015, police would try the best to stop terrorists from striking again and prevent forces of terrorism and religious extremism from spreading from Xinjiang to the rest of the country.

In Beijing, armed police officers have begun patrolling major subway stations including those around the Tian'anmen area, the heart of the capital, and the city's 14 most crowded areas including Xidan, Wangfujing, Beijing Railway Station and the airport.

"Once an emergency happens, nearby armed police will arrive in the area within one minute," said Zhang Bing, deputy director of Beijing Public Security Bureau.

Police are deploying five helicopters in the air and 150 vehicles equipped with riot guns day and night to ensure security.

In south China's Guangzhou City, armed police wearing bulletproof vests are checking the identification cards of passengers at the railway station where lights in five police sentries are flashing day and night.

Authorities in east China's Nanjing City are deploying 5,000 police officers, nearly one third of its total, in streets so that "the public can see police officers at all times".

All of these measures indicate the Chinese government is not only lifting the security level but also turning these anti-terrorism measures into regular practice, said Li Wei, director of counter-terrorism with China Institute of International Studies.

Such efforts have become a necessity as the country faces continuous terrorist attacks.

Xinjiang saw its bloodiest day in five years on Thursday when 39 innocent people were killed in a terrorist attack in the regional capital of Urumqi.

In a previous attack in the city on April 30, three people were killed and 79 injured at a railway station. In March, assailants killed 29 civilians and injured another 143 at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.

Zuo Zhijin, former head of Beijing Police College, said patrols in major cities have been more frequent.

Armed with guns compared with spontoons before, the police can better respond to incidents involving guns, bombs as well as mass violence or terrorism, he said.

As part of efforts to show the government's determination to fight against terrorism and deter those making trouble, Chinese police authorities have intensified anti-terrorism exercises.

More than 20 provinces, five autonomous regions and four municipalities have conducted anti-terrorism drills since March. Most of the exercises were staged in airports, railways stations and subway stations with scenarios including knife attacks and hijackings.

The Ministry of Public Security has also launched a three-month program to train police officers, especially those patrolling streets, in using arms.

The training is aimed at improving police officers legal knowledge and practical skills, so they can effectively use weapons in line with laws and deter criminals when they are dealing with violent crimes, the ministry said.

"We use real weapons during the training and some people have even been injured," said Zhang Lin, a police officer from Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Yin Wei, an official in charge of police training with the People's Public Security University of China, said such training should be conducted every year.

"Using weapons is like driving a car. If you do not practice, you will forget how to use them," he said.

"Regular training is an important guarantee of police officers' combat abilities. Weapons training organized by the ministry is a strong signal of enhancing such regular efforts of dealing with terrorist offences and suppressing terrorists' rampant momentum," Yin said

Under the instruction of the ministry, police organs in various parts of China including Shandong, Guangdong and Liaoning provinces have started implementing their middle and long-term training plans for weapon-use, according to the China Police Daily.

POWER OF PUBLIC

While the security level is elevated across the nation, responsibilities of fighting terrorism do not only fall on the shoulders of police officers.

China is mobilizing the resources of the entire nation.

Calling terrorism the common enemy of the people, President Xi Jinping urged the public to build a "wall of bronze and iron" to fight against terrorism.

"(We must) make terrorists become like rats scurrying across a street, with everybody shouting 'beat them!'" Xi said at a group study session on national security and social stability by the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee in April.

As a latest show of public power, about 300,000 volunteers in Shanghai were mobilized to help safeguard security at the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia that was held on May 20 and 21.

Such massive mobilization occurred during the 2008 Olympics where residents wearing sleeve emblems worked to help professional forces to guard against any possible terrorist threats.

On May 15, 17 retired soldiers formed an anti-terrorism unit in Luohu District, Shenzhen City to protect the security of their community.

"We formed the team to echo the government's call to fight against terrorism," said unit head Huang Jianming. "We will work 24 hours a day to ensure we can reach incident sites within 10 minutes."

The unit members hope they become an important force of fighting terrorists and maintaining stability of their hometown.

Zhang Xianrui, a legislator of the National People's Congress, said the public should not be too afraid of terrorists as they also have weaknesses.

As long as the public and the police unite to form a comprehensive and strong monitoring network, terrorist violence can be prevented and eliminated, Zhang said.

While the war on terrorism is waged, experts also warned against infringement on people's civil rights as state powers, if unlimited, could harm people's legitimate rights.

Liu Renwei, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said some state organs can be granted special rights in emergencies to tackle terrorist attacks effectively, but people's rights including freedom of expression and privacy should also be protected.

"This will be a hard test for the authorities during the war on terrorism," he said.

Editor: yan
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