As if the subways in Beijing were not busy enough on a Monday morning, Chinese authorities instituted new security procedures — including bag checks and body searches — during rush hour in the capital. The move is just one part of a broad security tightening, along with “strike hard” campaigns in Xinjiang, after a bombing attack at a fruit market last week.
Photographs released in the Chinese press show security guards with guns — unusual for China — and inspection teams set up outside train stations, similar to the procedures at an airport.
“Intense passenger load during rush hour… please come in advance,” signs said. Subway riders shuffled through the zig-zag fencing.
Waiting time at subways is around half an hour, at least twice the usual, a passenger told Beijing Times. Some were unhappy about the “extreme” security check; police arrested one malcontent who threw around his bags and broke a security machine after long wait.
Others expressed worries that the crowds created by the security check are a potential danger for stampedes and other attacks. “If a suicide bomber was in the waiting line, people in the railings have nowhere to escape!” wrote netizen @Luozhiqiu on Weibo, a popular microblogging website.
The Beijing Public Security Bureau has launched air-based surveillance, using five police helicopters to monitor the city since May 24, according to the Beijing Times.
Police on the frontlines were given twice the daily allotment of bullets , reports said, and were instructed that they were permitted to shoot people identified as terrorists without warning.
The beefed up security measures come in response to a vehicle and bomb attack at a market in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, on May 22. Authorities described the incident as a terrorist attack by ethnic extremists and separatists.
State-run media outlets have reported relentlessly on the efforts to combat terrorism. China Central Television, the state-run television station, is replete with reports of anti-terror squads being established and conducting training around the country.