China Beat Archive



James Farrer

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August 5, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright August 5, 2008 James Farrer. Used by permission.


While the English language press has been reporting that over 100,000 police and 30,000 soldiers have been readied to protect China’s Olympic city, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun has come up with figures a full order of magnitude higher. The August 4, 2008, morning Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo edition) ran a front page feature article reporting that despite claims by the Chinese government that no one has been made to leave the city, nearly 1.4 million migrant workers have been moved out of the city for the Olympics. In turn, the report says, nearly 1.2 million police and 200,000 army personnel have moved into the city, comprising an astonishing 10 percent of the total urban population. The article cites an unnamed public security source as claiming, “In the central city nearly 1 in 5 people are security personnel, a so-called ‘human sea strategy’ for protecting the capital city.”

Despite the large numbers, the security personnel are told to avoid standing about the most touristic spots of the city. Fears of terrorism, particularly by Uighur radicals, are cited as one reason for the massive mobilization of security personnel. Chinese security have also reportedly contacted Japanese officials were about the possibility that East Turkistan Islamic Movement terrorist sleepers based in Japan could take advantage of Japanese tourists’ visa free access to China in order to slip into the country to disrupt the Olympics. As an illustration of the deportations of migrant workers, the article featured the story of a Mr. Ge who worked as a house painter and cleaner supporting his wife and two children who were also living and studying in Beijing. He was forced to return to Sichuan although their house there had been destroyed in the earthquake, and he would have no place to return to.