‘Chinese success in Olympics will be our success’

17 08 2008

Source Rediff.com

August 07, 2008
On Monday, August 4, when 16 border police guards of China’s ministry of public security were killed and many others injured when two unidentified terrorists attacked their barracks near Kashgar in the Xinjiang province of China, B Raman got a telephone call in Chennai from a Chinese think-tank advising China’s Olympics [Images] committee. Raman, India’s foremost expert on terrorism, visited Chengdu and Shanghai recently to advise the Chinese on the threat to the Olympics.

On the eve of the inauguration of the planet’s biggest sporting spectacle, Raman discusses the prospects of the evil of terrorism in Beijing [Images] in an interview with Editor Sheela Bhatt.

Do you think there is a possibility of some kind of terrorism in China during the Olympics?

There is a medium to high probability of acts of violence, including terrorism, by Uighur elements not only in the Xinjiang province, but also against Chinese nationals and interests during the Olympics in the Central Asian Republics, Pakistan and Turkey.

The Uighurs do not have a demonstrated capability for major acts of terrorism in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, where the main Olympic events will be held, but have a high capability in Xinjiang, the CARs and Pakistan. The main threat, if any, will be from the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan, which operates from North Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.

On July 25, 2008, a private security consultancy agency of the US claimed to have intercepted a three-minute Olympics-specific video message by one Sayfallah, who claimed to belong to an organisation called the Turkistan Islamic Party in which he threatened acts of violence directed against the Olympics. He claimed that his organisation was responsible for the explosions in buses in Shanghai in May and in Kunming in Yunnan in July. He warned that his group is planning to attack Chinese cities ‘using previously unused methods’.

He also said: ‘This is our last warning to China and the rest of the world. The viewers and athletes, especially those who are Muslim, who plan to go to the Olympics should change their plans and not go to China. The Turkistan Islamic Party plans military attacks on people, offices, arenas, and other activities that are connected to the Chinese Olympic Games.’

Images: China ready to deliver safe Games

This message, even if its purpose is assumed to be to create fear and nervousness, shows that sections of Uighurs in Xinjiang as well as in Pakistan, the CARs and Turkey have been thinking of some incidents before and during the Olympics to draw attention to their cause. Likely threats from them have already been taken seriously by the Chinese authorities and have been factored into in their security planning.

Chinese concerns have been magnified by the attack on border police guards in Kashgar in Xinjiang province on August 4 in which 16 police guards were killed by two Uighurs of the area. Apart from diversionary attacks on Chinese nationals and interests, the other dangers are hijacking of Chinese planes and kidnapping of Chinese diplomats posted in neighbouring countries.

Is the Chinese government doing enough to understand the issue? Are Chinese leaders taking action?

Yes. The Chinese have done whatever they can to prevent acts of terrorism. They have taken into account various contingencies that could arise such as the hijacking of a plane and trying to crash it into the stadium, attacks on athletes and their places of stay, attacks on soft targets like the public transport system etc.

They have thoroughly studied the various scenarios that could arise and the scenarios that actually arose in the past, such as the kidnapping and murder of some Israeli athletes by the Black September group during the Munich Olympics in 1972 and the explosion in Atlanta in the US in 1996 by an irrational individual during the Atlanta Olympics, and factored the lessons into their security planning.

Which are the groups who have a significant presence In China?

The Chinese apprehensions mainly focus on the IMET and other Uighur groups, the Falun Gong and the supporters of the Dalai Lama [Images]. In my view, the highest threat will be from the Uighurs and the pro-Uighur groups in Pakistan like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Union, which is another Uzbek group, Al Qaeda [Images], the Taliban [Images] and Pakistani jihadi organisations.

While the anger of the Uighurs is against the Chinese because of their alleged suppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang, the others will be more interested in exploiting the gathering of thousands of athletes and hundreds of thousands of tourists in Beijing to watch the Olympics to attack teams from the US, Israel and Denmark. The anger against Denmark is particularly intense because of the publication of cartoons of the Holy Prophet by some Danish newspapers in 2005.

Are the athletes safe? Which countries have a higher risk?

The Chinese have assured all participating countries that their security will be very tight and that they will be protected. However, terrorism is a very unpredictable threat and hence one has to keep one’s fingers crossed. While some nervousness is natural, one should not allow this to come in the way of one’s participation. The international community should wish the Chinese well and help them in preventing any threat from materialising.

A terrorism-free Beijing Olympics will be an important contribution to the global fight against terrorism.

Don’t miss Rediff.com‘s coverage of the Beijing Olympics!

I am praying with all the intensity I can command that the Olympics should be totally successful and that the Chinese should succeed in preventing any violent incident. The highest risk will be to Denmark, the US and Israel in that order.

Do you think IMET or the Uighur movement is determined to spoil the Olympics?

The Olympics will provide a global audience. The Uighurs are determined not to miss this opportunity to publicise their anger against the Chinese. So too the Falung Gong. Some sections of Tibetan youth too wanted to exploit the occasion, but His Holiness the Dalai Lama has strongly advised them against doing anything which might embarrass or humiliate the Chinese. Unfortunately, neither the Uighurs nor the Falun Gong have a leader with the moral calibre of His Holiness. So, there is no one to advise them to exercise restraint. They can be irrational and unpredictable.

What kind of advice will you give the International Olympic Committee?

I was invited by the Chinese to make a presentation on likely threats to Olympics security at Chengdu in Sichuan in August last year and at Shanghai in May. We had very detailed discussions on various possible scenarios and they have been closely following my articles on the subject.

My advice to them will be: Be well-informed, be alert, be prepared for any contingency and avoid adding to the anger of those against Beijing by using harsh words against them. Be also on the look out for threats from angry individual Muslims not belonging to any organisation, who might get into the teams from the Islamic world participating in the Olympics.

China is the third Asian country to host the Olympics after Japan [Images] (Tokyo) and South Korea (Seoul), but neither Tokyo nor Seoul had to hold the Olympics under such difficult circumstances as Beijing, when the world is facing such serious threats from terrorism. Greece faced similar difficulties and threats during the Athens Olympics of 2004, which were held three years after 9/11 and after the US-led military operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban had started in Afghanistan and one year after the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. All the NATO countries rallied to the assistance of the Greek authorities to ensure that there was no threat to the Athens Olympics.

The Beijing Olympics, which is the second after 9/11, faces the same level of threats as the one at Athens. The Chinese have received excellent international cooperation, but they do not have the same technological capability against terrorism as the NATO countries. They have spared no pains and no expenditure to ensure the success of the Games.

The entire Chinese people, their professionals, their security forces, their scientists have rallied together to make the Beijing Games an occasion to remember. Only sick minds will wish ill of them at this juncture.

At the end of my visit to Shanghai in May, an important personality had hosted a lunch for me. In my toast, I said: “In India, we all without exception want you to succeed and want the Beijing Olympics to be a memorable success. We want to hold the Olympics in New Delhi [Images] one day. We will learn from you how to organise a spectacular Olympics.” I could see everybody at the lunch was touched.

We are all Chinese today. Chinese success will be our success. Chinese pride will be our pride.

Terrorism | Experts Split on Threat of Terrorism at Beijing Olympics

7 08 2008

Terrorism | Experts Split on Threat of Terrorism at Beijing Olympics

Source: DW

A deadly mortar attack in northwestern China has stirred up fear of attacks during the Olympic Games in Beijing. However, whether the Games are really in danger is a highly disputed matter.

According to Chinese authorities, the attack in the Muslim region of Xinjiang, which killed 16 police officers on Monday, Aug. 4, was carried out by terrorists. This is the second attack of this kind in Xinjiang in the past two weeks. Now the question is: How concerned should the world be of an attack during the Olympics.

Terrorism is the biggest threat during the Games, Rohan Gunaratna, one of Singapore’s most prominent terrorism experts, told the Chinese daily Straits Times.

Head of the the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the Nanyang Technological University, Gunaratna said the Olympic Security Committee categorizes al Qaeda, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Tibetan separatists and the Falun Gong sects as threats.

Gunaratna said he believes the ETIM poses the biggest threat. That group was blamed for Monday’s attack by the China Daily newspaper.

The Beijing fortress

A map showing the location of Kashgar in China.Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The attack took place in the most western reaches of the country

Other political observers warned against lapsing into panic or dramatizing the danger to the Games in Beijing.

The Chinese capital can be compared to a fortress, and that the danger of an attack is therefore remote, according to East Asian expert Xuewu Gu. Xuewu added that the most dangerous groups are not in a position to stage an attack in Beijing because they are being forced to deal with the police outside the capital.

State in a state

Martin Wagener, an expert on violence in East Asia at Trier University, called Beijing a “true security state.”

Chinese police officers march in front of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing.Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Around 110,000 police officers and 34,000 soldiers have been enlisted to work security

The government has put 34,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army along with 110,000 police officers in place for security, Wagener said his research has shown. They will be backed up by fighter jets, helicopters and ships. There have also been some 300,000 security cameras installed, and up to 1.4 million people have reportedly volunteered to make sure nothing goes wrong.

“It will be very difficult to smuggle any sort of explosives into Beijing,” said Wagener.

The attack in Kashgar is not an uncommon occurrence. For years there have been both small and large attacks against the police and government buildings. Until now, however, they have not been reported on outside the country.

Xuewu said he expects the attacks to continue after the Olympics, because the groups’ causes will not fade away as international media leave China after the Games.

“Just the opposite,” he said. “There will still be problems because the injustice in China will just get bigger, and the relationship between the central government and the minorities will get worse.”

Selective disinformation

Wagener said he believes it is possible that the central government in Beijing has instrumented accidents, like the one in Kashgar, in order to justify their giant security apparatus.

When the Games are over they are likely to use it for other purposes, such as controlling separatist in Xinjiang, Tibet protesters, and the religious Falun Gong sects, Wagener said.

“This seems to be the central concern for the authorities,” he added.

Police pointing at a photographer taking photos of the attack site in Kashgar.Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Local police tried to keep the story from getting out

The Chinese government seems to be carrying out a campaign of selective disinformation of the public. At least that’s what actions in Kashgar are pointing to. According to one reporter from AFP, independent reports of the attack were difficult to come by. The local authorities blocked Internet access on the day of the attack. The police tried to prohibit any news of the attack getting out, and even broke into the hotel room of an AFP photographer and forced him to delete photos of the attack site.

Two Japanese journalists, who wanted to report on the attack, were momentarily detained according to the Associated Press. Reporter Shinji Katsuta said that he was hit multiple times in the face. Authorities apologized later for the incident.

Martin Schrader (mrm)

Olympic Truce for sake of mankind’s grand sports gathering

31 07 2008

www.chinaview.cn 2008-07-31 07:37:43

Special report: 2008 Olympic Games

By Song Jing and Fu Rong

BEIJING, July 30 (Xinhua) — UN leaders have this week called for an Olympic Truce, a cessation of all hostilities worldwide for the duration of the Beijing Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

The calls, made by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President of the UN General Assembly Srgjan Kerim respectively on Monday, reflect the Olympic spirit and the mankind’s dream for peace as well as the joint aspirations of the whole international community.

Conflicts and wars have been tragedies in the history of humanity, while peace is mankind’s ever-lasting dream. As the theme slogan of the upcoming Olympics “One World, One Dream” embodies, while the world community is made up of people of different skin colors, languages, races, religions, they share the global village as well as the dream for peace and harmony.

It is the Olympic host country’s sincere wish and the deep aspiration of people around the world that all the people on the Earth can enjoy the charms of the Olympics and at the same time share the joy and happiness in peace and harmony.

The Olympic Truce, which embodies a brilliant revival of the tradition that can be traced back to more than 2,000 years ago, draws its origins to the warring city-states in ancient Greece who agreed to observe a sacred truce while the games lasted, to allow athletes and spectators enjoy the quadrennial sports gathering in an atmosphere of peace and happiness.

The truce marked a milestone in Olympic history: the Games became a gathering for opposing wars and embracing unity, as well as a symbol of peace and fraternity.

Yet the historic journey to the revival of the glorious tradition was full of twists and turns and the endeavor suffered repeated setbacks.

In the early 20th century, Pierre de Coubertin, known as the father of the modern Olympics, had tried unsuccessfully to convince warring nations of the need to observe a truce. The ensuing two world wars not only dealt a ruthless blow to mankind’s ideal for peace, but also ruined three Olympic events. As recently as in the 1992 Barcelona Games, athletes from the war-torn former Yugoslavia were only allowed to participate as individuals.

The bitter lessons prompted people to reflect upon the chaos brought by wars. The Olympic Truce’s formal inclusion in the process of the United Nations represents the high approval of and universal respect for the noble idea of peace on the part of the international community.

Last October, the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution calling for a truce during the Beijing Olympic Games.

The resolution, submitted by China and co-sponsored by 186 nations, urged member states to observe the Olympic Truce individually and collectively during the Games of the 29th Olympiad in Beijing and the following Paralympic Games.

It also called on the UN member states to peacefully resolve all the international disputes in line with the spirit of the UN Charter.

The concept of the Olympic Truce was revived by the International Olympic Committee in 1992 which relayed it to the United Nations. Since 1993, the UN General Assembly has appealed for the truce to be observed, by adopting a resolution one year before each edition of the Olympic Games.

The UN endeavors to maintain world peace and promote common development are highly consistent with the Olympic movement’s spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play, and both are the lofty ideals being pursued by human society.

As Srgjan Kerim, president of the 62nd session of the General Assembly put it, the Olympic Games bring together athletes from all over the world and peace, mutual understanding and goodwill will be promoted among different countries and peoples during the great sporting festival.

These goals are the component parts of the fundamental values of the United Nations, Kerim added.

While nobody would cherish unrealistic hopes of getting rid of the chaos of war during the brief period of peace brought about by the Olympic Truce, the Olympic movement, which symbolizes peace and development, endeavors to bring about a peaceful future for mankind.

The brief truce is not only a precious moment for the world, but also serves as peace lessons for people to reflect upon the untold suffering caused by war. People would ask themselvels: why can’t mankind resolve disputes through peaceful means in this world of ours?

It also offers a rare opportunity for the international community to provide relief for suffering populations and promote peace dialogues.

For the sake of the Olympics, the grand sports gathering for all mankind, let there be a truce across the world. For mankind to have a future of lasting peace and common development, let the world seek and maximize the Olympic Truce.

With less than two weeks to go before the Olympics open in Beijing, the Chinese government is facing the horrendous possibility of terrorist attacks a

29 07 2008

Beijing reacts quickly to claims by the Turkistan Islamic Party taking responsibility for recent attacks and threatening more during the Games

https://i1.wp.com/images.businessweek.com/story/08/600/0728_tiananmen_square.jpgChinese policemen stand guard on the Tiananmen Square on July 28, 2008 in Beijing, China. The Chinese authorities have tightened security with over 100,000 police, professional and volunteer security guards. The Beijing Olympic Games start on August 8. ANDREW WONG/Getty Images

With less than two weeks to go before the Olympics open in Beijing, the Chinese government is facing the horrendous possibility of terrorist attacks aimed at the Games. On July 23 an apparent terrorist group released a video taking responsibility for bus bomb blasts a few days before in the southwestern city of Kunming that killed two people. The group also claimed as its own another attack in Shanghai that killed three people in May.

In the video, the group calling itself the Turkistan Islamic Party (BusinessWeek.com, 3/17/08), apparently a Uighur Muslim separatist organization pushing for independence for China’s far western region of Xinjiang, threatened more attacks, including during the Beijing Games that run from Aug. 8-24. “Our aim is to target the most critical points related to the Olympics. We will try to attack Chinese central cities severely using the tactics that have never been employed,” said Seyfullah, the purported commander of the group, according to a translation by the Washington (D.C.)-based terrorism analyst organization IntelCenter.

The government has reacted quickly with reports in the state-controlled press denying the blasts were Olympics-related. “So far, no evidence has been found to indicate the explosions were connected with terrorists and their attacks, or with the Beijing Olympics,” a Yunnan public security official said on July 26, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua. “The blast was indeed deliberate but had nothing to do with terrorist attacks,” added a second official from Shanghai in the same report.

Missiles Defend Olympic Venues

That may be the official stance, but there is no denying that Beijing now views the security of the Games as its paramount concern. China’s efforts—ranging from putting surface-to-air missiles around Olympic venues such as the Bird’s Nest stadium and Water Cube aquatics center, to the planned closure of Beijing’s international airport during the opening ceremony—are turning this year’s Olympics into the most security-focused Games in history. “A safe Olympics is the premise for a first-class Games with Chinese characteristics. Safety is our top concern here,” the state press reported Vice-President Xi Jinping saying while touring Olympic facilities on July 21.

To ensure security, Beijing already held a series of anti-terrorist drills in June aimed at dealing with possible bomb or chemical attacks, as well as attempts to kidnap athletes. Now the capital is preparing to deploy more than 100,000 police, army troops, and volunteers around the capital. Police checkpoints have been set up along major roads to check identity cards for those trying to enter Beijing. Armed police with bomb-sniffing dogs now patrol the city’s railway and subway stations. An additional 2,000 security guards as well as 200 X-ray machines are in the capital’s 93 subway stations to watch for guns, knives, and explosive or flammable liquids.

Meanwhile, Beijing has placed 300,000 surveillance cameras throughout the capital to monitor any suspicious activities. Access to all Olympics venues is being screened, with everything from standard metal detectors to technology for fingerprint and iris scanning. China will spend a record $6.5 billion on surveillance equipment. That compares with the $1.4 billion spent in Athens for the 2004 Games, according to the Alexandria (Va.)-based Security Industry Assn.

Closed Political System Has Greater Control

“All work related to Olympic security is in full swing and security personnel and equipment are all in place,” said Liu Shaowu, director of security for the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games Security Dept. on July 23. “Beijing is confident of dealing with any kind of security threat and will present the world a safe and peaceful Olympics.”

Despite the recent attacks, security experts believe the Chinese government is well-positioned to thwart terrorist threats to the Games. “In a country such as China with a relatively closed political system, they probably are somewhat better prepared when it comes to security than in a more open country like the U.S.,” notes Harvey Schiller, the CEO of New York-based risk management consultancy GlobalOptions Group. “I suspect they have some advantages in securing security,” adds Schiller, who formerly served as the executive director and secretary general of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Roberts is BusinessWeek‘s Asia News Editor and China bureau chief.