BEIJING, July 25, 2008 (AFP) – Its ancient city walls were demolished decades ago, but with the Olympic Games fast approaching Beijing is raising a new defence that is echoing those long-gone fortifications.
The capital has gone into fortress mode for next month’s Games, with police checkpoints choking road traffic into Beijing, tightened security across the city, and even surface-to-air missiles set up near Olympic venues.
About 150,000 police and other security personnel will be on hand to safeguard the Games, state media reports said, surpassing the 100,000 at the 2004 Athens Games, the first held in the post-9/11 era.
The police and soldiers making up the main security force will be aided by another 400,000 civilian volunteers whose duties will include watching for any threats to the Games.
“We will help watch during the Olympics for any ‘sudden incidents’ or suspicious activity and report it to police immediately,” volunteer Zhang Dekui told AFP, gesturing toward his hip-holstered cell phone.
“It is the responsibility of all Chinese to contribute to a successful Olympics,” said the 51-year-old convenience store owner, standing near the main Olympic soccer venue in a blue and white “Be