Beijing’s Olympic Security Turmoil

July 18, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015

A policewoman checks a man's bag on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Intense security measures are already in place for next month's Beijing Olympics.  (Peter Parks/Getty Images)
A policewoman checks a man's bag on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Intense security measures are already in place for next month's Beijing Olympics. (Peter Parks/Getty Images)
On July 14, Beijing officially launched a series of security measures, dubbed the “Three-Tiered Security System,” as the Olympic Games approach.

All vehicles entering Beijing will go through security checks, and all residents will have to carry identification with them. “The ‘all for the security of the Olympics’ mindset has turned residents lives upside down, as if a national disaster is happening,” said Beijing resident Chen Wang.

Daily Routines Disrupted

In order to give way to the Olympics, offices in Beijing will have flexible working hours from July 20 to September 20. The government office hours will remain unchanged. The Beijing City Traffic Control Department will carry on traffic control, and normal vehicle traffic is banned on the streets around the Olympic facilities.

Many restrictions have been established around the city, Chen said. The start of office hours, which is usually at 8:30 am, has now been changed to 9:30 am and daily schedules have been pushed back as well. To reduce the increasing air pollution, vehicles with even-numbered license plates are permitted to drive only on even dates and likewise for vehicles with odd-numbered plates. Vehicles from outside are restricted to come into Beijing, which has affected prices of goods since Beijing is a city that relies heavily on out-of-town supplies. For example, vegetable prices have already increased 30 percent.

Beijing is going as far as implementing the military's anti-nuclear biochemistry terrorism divisions, and setting up four tiers of monitoring defense lines around the Olympics stadiums.

Chen said, “During the Olympics, the highest reward for reporting [deviant activities] is 500,000 yuan (~US$70,000) in comparison with the reward for a level A arrest warrant by police being 100,000 yuan (approximately US$ 14,285) in the past. It reveals that the police are really scared. The Department has transferred 8,000 police academy staff and many armed police from other locations to Beijing. A 'Green' Olympics is no longer a topic of concern and the emphasis has all been on 'safety.

Rigorous Identity Checks

Currently, identification is checked by machine, which will immediately reveal names that are on the blacklist. Non-Beijing residents have to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit to stay. The police will detain those who do not have Temporary Residence Permits until their true identifications are verified. Olympic tourists have to register their identifications.

Chen said, “Police will investigate certain focal trains such as those from Tibet or Xinjiang prior to getting off. The current national identification net has the capability to identify a person’s background immediately. It is said that 25 billion yuan (approximately US$3.5 Billion) have been spent on Beijing’s security and protection alone.”

Surveillance cameras have been installed throughout Beijing. Chen indicated that people cannot feel comfortable as the cameras deprived people of their privacy.

Beijing resident Ms. Zhou said, “It is not just inconvenient, it's disastrous. There are security checks of every vehicle or personal car. Carrying liquid is not allowed. The price of vegetables and lots of other goods have gone upand is suffocating. All residents are taking turns watching out and reporting suspicious people, protesters, and people who are distributing pamphlets and such."

The Olympics Are for Rich Locals

Mr. Lu, a Chinese official, said, “The Olympics have driven away all out-of-town people, and empty apartments are not to be rented. All those who wish to stay in Beijing have to have Temporary Residence Permits. One has to have Good Civilian Certificates the local government to apply, and one can not stay in Beijing without it. The cities hosting Olympic events have been informed not to allow people from Xinjiang or Tibet to stay.

Lu indicated that foreigners traveling to the Olympics have to show proof of hotel reservations to apply for visas. People of Islamic faith and others are having difficulty getting hotel reservations. As such, many foreigners are not coming to the Olympics. The Olympics has essentially become the Olympics for only Beijing residents and the rich.