Houston Community News >> Beijing Officials Says Working to Ensure Safe Olympics

1/20/2008 (IHT) Beijing - Beijing has initiated a broad security sweep to ensure China's capital is safe in the run-up to August's Olympics Games, state media quoted the city's top police official as saying.

Police have begun the security clampdown as part of a program called "Action for a Safe Olympiad," the Xinhua News Agency reported late Sunday, quoting Ma Zhenchuan, head of the city's Public Security Bureau.

Under the program, police are targeting organized crime groups, robberies and other serious crimes, tightening surveillance of entertainment venues to stamp out gambling and pornography and confiscating guns, explosives and ammunition, Xinhua said.

Terrorism was also a concern, the report said, quoting Ma as saying, "Terror attacks often target Olympics."

Security for the Beijing games is shaping up to be more complicated than is usual for Olympic hosts. While all host cities must take precautions against terrorism, especially after terror attacks on the United States in 2001, China's communist government faces a plethora of disaffected groups hoping to leverage the Olympic spotlight to draw attention to their grievances.

As part of the security preparations, Chinese security agencies have stepped up detentions of political dissidents and surveillance of activists trying to organize workers upset over poor working conditions, farmers angry about rural land confiscation and urban residents losing their homes to real estate development.

Xinhua quoted Ma as comparing crime to a sand heap. "

The smaller the base is, the smaller the heap is," Ma was quoted as saying in what Xinhua said was a recent speech.

Crime has flourished across China in recent decades as capitalist reforms have undermined or forced the government to remove social controls. Xinhua said police in Beijing had markedly improved their abilities fight crime in recent years and said the rate of increase in criminal cases fell in the capital last year for the third straight year.

(Contributed by IHT)