07/16/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Three maximum security rings around the Beijing of the Games

Tight controls even to get into the city, with scanners and bomb sniffing dogs. The authorities call them anti-terrorist measures, but want to prevent possible public protests. Local leaders "ordered" to pay attention to the complaints of the population.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The police set up three concentric cordons around Beijing yesterday, to guarantee security for the Olympics. Meanwhile, local leaders are urged to examine the complaints of the people and give them justice, to prevent rioting.

At the outermost ring, which extends to the province of Hebei and the city of Tianjin, every vehicle is checked with electronic scanners and dogs trained to detect explosives, to intercept dangerous material and persons. Witnesses say that a check takes about 10 minutes, and that bottlenecks and long waits are already forming in traffic. Yesterday, the first day of the checks, a traffic line more than 2 kilometres long formed on the highway between Beijing and Tianjin. It is feared that the situation will deteriorate during the Olympics.

Anyone who comes to Beijing will be checked and must have an identity card. The website of the public safety ministry says that if even one passenger on a bus has no identification, the vehicle and all of its passengers will be denied entry to the city.

Trash will also be examined to control pollution.

The second ring surrounds the wide periphery of Beijing, while the third surrounds the city centre, the Olympic village, and the competition sites.

The security plan provides for hundreds of similar check points in the province of Hebei, which surrounds the territory of Beijing. The authorities explain that these exceptional measures are necessary to block "terrorists", and that the police will operate with the greatest "courtesy and efficiency".

Meanwhile, China Daily reports that "the central government recently ordered all the Party chiefs of 2,300 counties to act on people's complaints and try to resolve their disputes" ahead of the Olympics. The heavy-handedness of local authorities causes tens of thousands of public protests each year, like the one in Wengan recently against the local government and the police, accused of not wanting to investigate the causes of the death of a young girl, or the one in Yuhuan (Zhejiang), in which thousands of migrant workers clashed with some policeman who had beaten one of them.

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