New reports of 16 police who were killed in China’s Xinjiang Province have flooded international headlines. According to Xinhua News, two men threw grenades at police officers during exercises, killing16 officers died and injuring an additional 16.
Since this is such a sensitive time for China, with the Olympics less than a week away, this bombing and other similar situations aren’t taken lightly. But is this security incident in Western China a legitimate threat to Olympic security?
Whether or not Uighur extremists from Xinjiang, or any other group seems to be plotting an attack, the Beijing organizers are seemingly ready for anything.
They have 100,000 anti-terrorism troops out in full force, ready to protect the Games. Even some elderly citizens and shopkeepers have red bands on their arms, as a deterrent to those who would want to cause trouble.
Last week I spoke with some students from California who are studying abroad at Beijing Normal University. In the two months they’ve been there, they have seen massive security changes, including the installation of metal detectors to go on campus.
Four hundred security guards have moved onto campus, potentially to protect the athletes who will be staying there.
This security has resulted in the potentially “No fun Olympics,” and caused significant criticisms from people who aren’t exactly thrilled with everything deemed an “Olympic sacrifice” or “Olympic beautification.”
On the other hand, the city seems extremely safe. One of my American friends left his wallet in a cab, and it was returned to him with all of his credit cards and cash intact.
For my friend and many other Olympic tourists, these types of gestures will leave a much more positive impression of Beijing than the bilions of Olympic investment.