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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

China Stages Anti-terror Drills

June 14, 2008

Independent Online (South Africa)
June 12 2008

Beijing - China is staging a week of anti-terrorism drills ahead of
the Beijing Olympics that include simulated chemical weapons attacks
and hijackings, state media reported Thursday.

The public security ministry said the drills dubbed "Great Wall 5"
were designed to mirror real attacks as closely as possibly, using
actual Olympic venues, Xinhua news agency reported.

The drills used "real place, real time, real people and real
equipment" to "test the city's emergency response capacity and smooth
the coordination among various forces ahead of the Olympics," Xinhua
quoted the ministry as saying.

Top Chinese leaders and international experts say Beijing could be a
terrorist target during the August 8-24 summer Games and China has
mobilised an anti-terrorist force of almost 100 000 commandos, police
and army troops.

A bomb squad equipped with 200 sniffer dogs will patrol key
facilities including Olympic venues, logistics centres, airports and
VIP residences during the Games, Xinhua said earlier.

The drills started on Wednesday with a simulated chemical weapons
attack on the venue for the Olympic volleyball competition which
involved the evacuation of 400 people from the stadium, Xinhua said.

Spectators were rushed out within minutes and a chemical clean-up was
completed within the hour, making the drill a success, the report said.

China has put the emphasis on security and stability in the run-up to
the Games.

Public security minister Meng Jianzhu said last month that terrorism
constituted the biggest threat to the Games, with a main threat
coming from Muslim separatists in China's far western region of Xinjiang.

Critics have accused Beijing of playing up the terror threat to
provide an excuse to crack down on dissent.

But the United States, Britain and Interpol have all issued travel
warnings, saying the Games are a potential target for attack.

China is also anticipating trouble from activists who may stage
protests during the Games to highlight issues including China's
crackdown in Tibet, the humanitarian crisis in Darfur blamed on the
China-backed Sudan regime, as well as China's much-criticised record
on human rights and religious freedom.

Since the Tibet crackdown, the government has introduced more
stringent visa requirements for visitors while cancelling many
large-scale outdoor events ahead of the Olympics.

Last week, the government and the Beijing Olympic organising
committee issued a lengthy list of instructions for foreign visitors,
warning that they could end up in jail if they took part in illegal
street protests.

During the one-year countdown to the Games, eight foreign pro-Tibet
activists were briefly detained after staging protests and carrying
out other activities in Beijing to highlight their campaign.
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