BEIJING, May 26 (Xinhua) -- While China is knitting an anti-terrorist security network with patrols by armed police, or even helicopters and vehicles loaded with riot guns, the nation needs still to prepare its people to fight the war on terror, thereby mobilizing its most powerful weapon.
The latest terrorist bombing in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, in which 39 innocent people were killed, prompted the nation to heighten its security.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Public Security said the police will start a year-long nationwide anti-terrorism operation, asking police across the country to cooperate and launch a joint offensive against terrorism.
Three people were killed and 79 injured in an attack at a railway station in Urumqi on April 30. In March, assailants killed 29 civilians and injured another 143 at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming.
Terrorist activities have extended from the Xinjiang region to major cities across China, and from violence against law enforcers to carnage affecting civilians. That terrorist activities can happen anywhere, anytime highlighted the fact that the guard can never be let down.
To keep the momentum of counterstrikes, the country needs to wage war on terror. Given the ubiquitous and uncertain nature of terrorist threats, preparing the general public is not only necessary but also effective to defeat the enemy.
To do so, first of all, China should raise people's awareness of terrorism, and inform the public, in means of school or public education, of constitutes terrorism and its various forms.
The public response following the Kunming attack revealed a lack of awareness, as some Internet users spread rumors about similar knife attacks striking other cities.
They should have been aware that by rumormongering, they were merely playing into terrorists' hands by creating panic, whetting terrorists' appetite for orchestrating more violence.
Secondly, public safety awareness needs to be raised. The general public cannot be too cautious in the face of such a biting and prolonged war against terror.
If the public can report any irregularities in their neighborhood, public places or cyberspace, they will provide essential aid to intelligence collecting.
Also, whereas the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 prompted the nation to equip citizens, particularly minors, with quake relief skills, few anti-terrorism civilian exercises have yet been organized.
More such drills and public education sessions need to take place, so as to show the public how to respond to a terrorism emergency.
One thing needs special attention: as China's battle with terrorism is going to be a day-to-day reality, some fine lines need to be toed carefully, for example, the crackdown should not override people's legitimate rights.
China's police authority noted this in its instruction to local police, requiring them only to target terrorists and religious extremists and to protect the legal rights and interests of people of ethnic minorities.
With this as a premise, the "people's war" on terror needs to be fought fiercely. Preparing the people for terrorist threats is not a sign of fear, rather, a show of determination.