Wed, Sep 12, 2007 - Page 18 News List

China says terrorism is threatening Olympics


China believes terrorism is the biggest threat facing next year's Olympic Games and has called for closer international cooperation to prevent possible attacks, state media said yesterday.

"Although the general security situation for the Beijing Olympics remains stable, we still face the challenges of terrorism, separatism and extremism," Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang (周永康) was quoted by the China Daily newspaper as saying.

"Terrorism in particular poses the biggest threat," he told a security conference in Beijing on Monday, the paper said.

Zhou proposed more information-sharing between international security forces and the establishment of an early risk warning mechanism, the paper said, without giving details.

Interpol said on Monday it would help China with its security efforts by sending a "major events support team" to the Games that will have quick access to Interpol files on fingerprints, images and "wanted persons notices."

Before the Games, Interpol will provide "threat assessments" on issues relating to Olympic security and international crime, the France-based organization said in a statement.

Liu Jing (劉京), a vice minister for public security, told the security meeting in Beijing that China hopes all the 135 cities on the Olympic torch relay route will help safeguard that event, the paper said.

Liu said some organizations and individuals were trying to politicize the Games and planned to disrupt the torch relay, he was quoted as saying.

Mia Farrow, a UN goodwill ambassador, has labeled the Beijing Games the "genocide Olympics" and has launched her own Olympic-style torch relay through countries with histories of mass atrocities.

The Hollywood actress says China has impeded a solution to deadly ethnic conflicts in Sudan's Darfur region because of its oil interests in that country.

China has legitimate concerns over terrorism at the Olympics, but those are simply one facet of its fervent desire to avoid any incidents that could embarrass a regime that has staked enormous prestige on pulling off a successful Games, said Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong-Kong based China researcher with Human Rights Watch.

"The issue with the Chinese government is that it conflates with terrorism activities that are protected under international human rights law," he said.

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