Security in Beijing tightens by the day as the Olympics approach. In early July, I went through zero security checkpoints a day. Today, traveling to and from the IBC I pass through security and have my badge checked a total of eight times. But in the wake of this Monday's bombings and killings in Northwest China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which the government attributes to Islamic separatist groups, I welcome any and all precautions.
My first screening today occurs on my way to work when boarding Subway Line 10, one of three new lines that opened on July 20, along with the Airport Line and the Olympic Green Line. Security checks here and at other stations began on July 29 and will continue through September 20, after the Para Olympics. Passengers must submit all bags to an x-ray scan, groceries included.
Subway officials screen me a second time when I transfer from Line 10 to the Olympic Green Line, which until August 8 is open only to reporters, coaches, athletes and Olympic personnel. During the Olympic games, when it opens to spectators, authorities at the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications estimate that the Olympic Green Line will handle 220,000 passenger trips per day.
Green Line passengers are subject to security checks in large white tents above ground before descending into the station. Be aware that guards might ask you to apply your lipstick or puff your inhaler to prove they are not poisonous. After scanning my bags, a guard asks me to sip my Coke Zero and to disclose my hand lotion for inspection. One friend relinquishes a lighter.
With officials estimating that the new lines combined will carry over 1 million passengers a day during the games, it's no wonder that authorities are worried about explosives, guns, liquids and flammables. Moreover, this week's violence in Xinjiang, coupled with May bus bombings in Shanghai and Kunming, has alarmed Chinese authorities who claim that a Uighur separatist group called the Turkestan Islamic Party has issued threats on the Olympics.
In addition to subway stations, security is tight at Olympic venues. At the entrance to the Olympic Green's Main Press Center, I submit my body and my bag to the morning's third check. At the entrance to the International Broadcast Center, two guards inspect my yellow BOCOG credentials.
ONS flash quote reporters tell me that guards at stadiums search bags by hand. One guard ordered a volunteer to swallow an Ibuprofin tablet. Another volunteer had to explain what her tampon was.
On my way home that night, I repeat the subway inspections. At the entrance to Renmin University, I submit to one final check, where, for the past week, all persons entering must show a Renmin identification card or a yellow BOCOG badge. But I don't mind. I want the Olympics to be 200 percent safe.
Below is a summary of BOCOG's "conditions of entry" posted at the entrance of the Olympic Green Line:
1. You will be denied entry if you are publicly drunk or dressed inappropriately. I guess that means no controversial slogans (regions bordering Nepal are out) or nudity.
2. Do not bring:
a. soft or hard packaged foods
b. fragile items
c. musical instruments like drums and horns
d. bulky bag and suitcases that might block aisles
e. flagpoles, and flags of countries not participating in the Games.
f. promotional materials, pamphlets, ads
g. unauthorized professional video equipment
h. sharp objects like knives, bats and sharp umbrellas
i. any device that may start a fire
j. animals (except seeing-eye dogs)
k. vehicles (except strollers and walkers)
l. anything that interferes with electronic signals, like radios, walkie talkies, lasers
m. of course no guns, crossbows, daggers, fireworks, radioactive or corrosive substances
Courtney Woo is working as a media volunteer at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.