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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Policing the Security Concerns in China

July 27, 2008

Mara Hvistendahl
The New Republic
July 25, 2008

KUNMING, CHINA -- Four days after a pair of bus bombs killed two
people in this city of three million in southwestern China, buses are
running again, though with fewer passengers and with Public Security
Bureau officers firmly on board. But with the Olympics just two weeks
away, the bus blasts--7/21, as the Chinese press has dubbed
them--show the complexity of the security challenge facing Beijing.

Over the past few months, as the Chinese government has preoccupied
itself with quashing dissent in Tibet and Xinjiang, Kunming--sedate,
but equally far from Beijing, and home to its own share of ethnic
minorities--seems to have slipped under the radar. When it became
clear that the blasts were manmade, some Western news organizations
pointed to disgruntled rubber farmers from a rural area of Yunnan
inhabited by the Dai minority. One could be forgiven for asking: the
who? Turns out they clashed with police officers in a deadly riot
last week. But so did peasants in Guangdong province. Then there was
that incident in Guizhou, just east of Yunnan, last month: over
10,000 rioters in all.

To add to Beijing's load, locals are spreading September 11-style
conspiracy theories. The Kunming Daily published a report stating
that the night before the bombings a text message circulated urging
recipients to stay away from certain bus lines. The message was
signed "the mobilizer of nobodies." The government responded by
singling out nobodies, requiring all residents of migrant
neighborhoods to register with the police. This is, we can only
guess, not the best way to regain local support.

Back in Beijing, the government is taking other precautionary
measures. There's been a clamp-down on visa issuances in an effort to
keep out protestors, along with the thousands of Christian
missionaries who had planned to descend on Beijing for a "spiritual
harvest." If suspicious foreigners still manage to sneak in, however,
police are equipped with the English phrases necessary to interrogate
them. Meanwhile, in Shenyang, site of some soccer events, cab drivers
are doubling as spies.

But 7/21 shows that with the opening ceremony just two weeks away,
the government has much more than outsiders to fear. On one Chinese
message board, a commentator observed, "America's terrorists are
foreign. China's terrorists are Chinese ... tragic."
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