THE BLOG
07/15/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Outside China Daily

Outside China Daily stands a uniformed officer on a platform. His posture seems as stiff as his well-starched, olive-green straight-leg pants and button-up shirt -- but his white-gloved hands hang loosely at his sides.

His eyes, which are nearly covered by the brim of his oval hat, follow each person who enters the revolving glass door. But nothing happens.

No one is ever asked for identification; they are not sent through a metal detector; nor are they stopped for questioning.

Before I arrived in Beijing last week, I was worried about Chinese government security. Would they bug my hotel room? Would I be sent home if I mentioned Tibet?

But it seems the Chinese government's bark is bigger than its bite. Any attempt at extra security for the Olympics has seemed harmless -- sometimes even pointless.

When entering the subway terminal last weekend, I noticed extra security guards and a new baggage scanner. The guards began approaching people passing through, asking them to put their purses and backpacks on the conveyer belt. It was reminiscent of a solicitor in a mall or on a city street asking passersby to sign their petition or take their free sample. And like these solicitors, the guards were received with up-turned hands or a polite head shake to keep them away.

When I came through with a Chinese friend, they gave up quickly, despite the medium-sized black purse nestled under my arm and the large tote slung over her shoulder. We were in the middle of a conversation and didn't care to pay attention. Apparently, neither did they.

Though hidden security cameras are more than common and the large numbers of guards with red armbands can be startling, Beijing's security crackdown seems to be more of a façade than a feared system at this point.

This summer, Meghan Peters is working as an online intern at China Daily, Beijing's largest English-language newspaper.