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Security at Tian'anmen square stepped up

updated: 2008-07-31

Beijing has strengthened its security measures at Tian'anmen Square as the number of visitors increases.

Security checkpoints have been set up at each underground entrance to the square and "all visitors will have to pass through them", Jia Yingting, deputy director of the Tian'anmen Square management committee, told a news briefing yesterday.

Bags must be opened for checks and goods that may harm public security such as explosives, guns, knives, drugs and pornographic materials, are banned, he said.

The square is now open to the public till midnight, but access to it may be temporarily limited during the Games when large cultural and sports activities are held there, he said.

Numerous cultural and sports shows will be held in the square before and during the Olympics, includes performances by domestic and foreign college and middle school orchestras from Aug 1-3 and daily mass sports activities from 7 am to 9 am from Aug 4-14, Jia said.

There will also be a promotion of China's intangible cultural heritage on Aug 15, 18 and 22.

Security measures could be further strengthened if the number of visitors to the square keeps growing, he said.

Other emergency plans have been drawn up, and authorities are confident of maintaining good order during the Games, he said.

Meanwhile, authorities said on Tuesday that from today, bus passengers will be subjected to security checks.

Up to 6,000 security staff will travel on buses, Feng Qingfu, deputy general manager of the Beijing Bus Company, said.

They will look out for suspicious passengers onboard, while more than 30,000 staff will keep watch at bus stops and terminals, he said.

The city has about 3,700 bus stops within its fifth ring road, he said.

Security checks on buses will be different from those at subway stations and airport terminals.

"Security staff will only watch, smell and enquire. Some will use security scanners," Feng said.

"If there is a suspicion, they will report it at once to the police."

Beijing has 18,000 buses on the roads each day, serving 13 million commuters. But the number of commuters is increasing by 1 million each day with just over a week to the start of the Games.

The bus company also has an emergency command vehicle watching over the safety of 34 Olympic bus routes, he said.

The upgrading of security measures follows two bus explosions in Kunming, Yunnan province, which killed two people and injured 14 others.