The Beijing Olympics have already become a focal point for violent conflict and protests over domestic political issues in China, such as the nation’s questionable human rights record on Tibet. But national issues are not the only concern for the Olympic games. The threat of a terrorist attack leading up to, or during, the Olympics has prompted China to mobilize an an “anti-terrorism force” of 100,000 troops to ensure that any threats are quelled before the occur. And, likely, that any dissident voices are quickly and quietly suppressed.
China mobilized a 100,000-strong anti-terrorism force to guard against threats to the Beijing Olympics, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.
Police commandos, specialist units and regular army troops made up the force, which was activated following a series of drills earlier this month, Xinhua said.
It also included the paramilitary Snow Wolf Commando Unit that was tasked with handling terrorist alerts and public unrest during or around the Aug. 8-24 Games, Xinhua said.
“Experiences of past games show that terrorist attacks may occur before the games, so our anti-terrorist forces have been in action ahead of the opening ceremony,” the report quoted Liu Shaowu, security director for the Beijing organizing committee, as saying.
Liu said his department had prepared more than 500 specific plans for security, transport, fire-fighting, and VIP protection.
China had previously enacted a raft of security restrictions and organized an additional 440,000 security guards and volunteers to ward off attacks. They included, Xinhua said, 70-year-old professor Li Gaoxiang, who it quoted as saying: “We will never allow the terrorists to attack the games. I will stop them once I have found any clue.”
China’s government said terrorism was the biggest threat to the games and claimed to have already foiled multiple plots by domestic separatists to sabotage the event. Authorities had provided scant evidence of the plots, but said suspects admitted to foreign links and anti-Olympics agendas.