Beijing takes steps to foil terror plots ahead of Olympics

July 15th, 2008 - 5:28 pm ICT by IANS  

By Pranay Sharma
Beijing, July 15 (IANS) Worries about attempts by terrorist and separatist groups to disrupt the forthcoming Olympic Games in Beijing has led the Chinese government to offer financial incentives to people for information to foil such plots. According to the local media, those who inform the Beijing police and Chinese authorities about “major security threats” to the Olympic Games that begin Aug 8 by providing evidence could receive a reward of up to 500,000 yuans (nearly $73,000).

The Chinese authorities are leaving nothing to chance and have taken a series of measures to counter possible threats of attacks by terrorist groups, including deploying surface-to-air missiles around the venue of the Olympics.

The ministry of public security of China as well as the Interpol have warned of a “real threat” of terrorism during the Games scheduled to begin in less than a month’s time.

A notice jointly issued by the city’s police bureau and public security comprehensive management committee said the tip-off must include accurate and detailed information about a planned terrorist attack, possible sabotage by an illegal organization, plot to murder personnel related to the Olympics or foreigners, or some other major crimes.

Quoting from the notice, the China Daily said, “The rewards would range upwards from 10,000 yuans (approximately $6,700) and be determined by the value of the tip-off.” The offer has been in place from July 10 and will continue till Oct 31.

It added, “The rewards are to mobilize the masses to maintain public security as well as to eliminate hidden dangers to the Games. The financial incentive is the Beijing authorities’ latest move to ensure a ’safe’ Olympics.”

The March 14 riots in Lhasa have shaken up the Chinese authorities and they miss no opportunity of reminding people of the Dalai Lama and his supporters’ possible attempts to disrupt the Olympic Games by drawing the attention of the international community to their demand of “autonomy” for a “Greater Tibet”.

Interestingly, the reports in the Chinese media do not mention the Tibetan groups but the Falun Gong, an organization that many believe was active some time back when Jiang Zemin was the Chinese president but has not been heard of in recent years.

Though attempts are being made to downplay possible demonstrations by Tibetan supporters during the Games, a senior Chinese official made it clear that this could not be ruled out.

“We are adopting a take-it-as-it-comes approach,” Dong Yunhu, director general of the state council information office, said in Beijing Sunday.

“For us the task is to solve the problem,” Dong added in response to questions about possible demonstrations and attempts by Tibetan supporters to disrupt the Beijing Olympics.

The Tibet issue may be a high-profile one, but reports from different parts of China suggest discontent among many sections of its people, including the Uygur minority who dominate the Xinjiang province of the country.

Last week, the authorities claimed to have cracked down on five terrorist groups in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, and have so far detained 82 “suspected terrorists” who were allegedly plotting to sabotage the Olympics.

The China Daily said in April the public security ministry had reported several failed terrorist plots to disrupt the Games, including poison gas and bomb attacks on hotels, government offices in Beijing and other cities and kidnapping of foreign athletes and spectators.

From this week, security staff will be deployed at hundreds of roads in the city. All passengers and vehicles registered outside Beijing will be subject to security checks.

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