Beijing’s final preparations went into full swing as the Olympic torch drew ever closer to the capital. Dress rehearsals for the opening ceremony were conducted under top-secret conditions. Officials ordered that dog meat be removed from the menus of many city restaurants and Olympic volunteer stations opened at tourist chokepoints. Foreign television networks reached an agreement with authorities to allow for live reporting from Beijing.
Meanwhile, the government enacted a series of last-ditch measures to reduce air pollution. Traffic restrictions – under which cars carrying license plates ending with even or odd numbers will be allowed on the streets on alternating days – went into effect on July 20. This is expected to remove 45% of Beijing’s 3.3 million cars from the roads and cut emissions by two-thirds through the end of the Paralympic Games in September.
To further reduce pollution, the port city of Tianjin ordered 40 factories to close, and the industrial base of Tangshan will shut down nearly 300 factories this month.
Beijing has also stepped up security with a 100,000-strong anti-terrorist force of commandos, police and military troops. Security checkpoints have been established around the city, and the government will publish a manual instructing Chinese citizens how to respond to terrorist attacks.
Security efforts extended as far west as Xinjiang as it was announced that five terrorist plots were foiled in the first half of the year. A total of 82 people suspected of planning terrorist attacks during the Olympics have been detained. The suspects were captured during raids of 41 “illegal religious schools” and “jihad training centers.”
In one such raid, state media said that police shot dead five members of an Islamic separatist group in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi. It was claimed that those killed were all members of the ethnic Uighur minority. The government said it remains on the lookout for a further 66 terrorist suspects.