Arming of police ramped up
Police are set to receive firearms training as part of a nationwide plan to boost armed patrols, state media said yesterday. The government last month announced plans to roll out armed patrols nationwide following a spate of violence, including a knife attack in Kunming on March 1 which left 33 people dead. “The presence of armed police will enable immediate responses to emergencies and effectively combat violent crimes,” Yan Zhengbin (閆正斌), a deputy director at the Ministry of Public Security, was quoted as saying in the China Daily. Separately, Jiangsu Province officials on Monday announced that 4,000 armed police and 12,000 assisting personnel would patrol 13 cities across the province from May 1. The move follows the deployment of 1,000 armed police in Shanghai on Sunday.
Lost codes alarm airport
Haneda Airport officials were forced to launch a frantic scramble to change security pass codes after a Skymark Airlines employee dropped a memo containing the codes yesterday, a day before US President Barack Obama arrives on a state visit. The employee lost the security codes on Sunday afternoon and the note was found on the floor of the departure lobby about 30 minutes later, a Ministry of Transport official said. The ministry instructed the firm that manages the Tokyo airport to immediately change the codes to avoid a security breach, the official said. Media said one-third of Tokyo’s police force had been pressed into service for Obama’s two-night visit.
Tougher eco-laws proposed
Amendments to the 1989 Environmental Protection Law that would mete out stiffer punishments for polluters have been submitted to the National People’s Congress for deliberation in its bimonthly session, which ends tomorrow, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday. The first change to the law in 25 years would give legal backing to the government’s newly declared war on pollution and formalize a vow made last year to abandon a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has spoiled much of the nation’s water, skies and soil. The amendments are expected to enshrine environmental protection as the overriding priority of the state and include provisions to help impose the rules on powerful industrial interests. The draft gives environmental bureaus the power to seize polluting equipment and will also allow company bosses to be detained for up to 15 days if they fail to submit environmental impact assessments or comply with orders, Xinhua said. The draft also includes protection for whistleblowers, it added.
Finance workers back protest
A group of about 70 finance professionals have vowed to join a pro-democracy protest that could shut down the Central business district later this year. The group said it would support the “Occupy Central” campaign set for July, which aims to push China to allow free elections in the territory. Organizers have threatened to block Central’s streets with 10,000 people unless their demands are met. The plan has been criticized by both local and Chinese officials, as well as some business leaders, but the finance professionals said it was necessary to fight for freedom. “It’s time to speak up for universal suffrage as we are passionate about Hong Kong,” organizer and fund manager Edward Chin said. Fellow organizer Au Lai-chong said the group, which will declare its stance in certain newspapers today, includes locals and expatriates.