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Beijing sets up anti-terror squads

Willy Wo-Lap Lam
CNN Senior China Analyst

Security is tight around Beijing's Tiananmen Square
Security is tight around Beijing's Tiananmen Square

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HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Beijing has set up sophisticated anti-terrorist squads to maintain order in the capital, which has witnessed bombings and other violent crimes in recent years.

The Head of the Beijing Public Security Bureau Ma Zhenchuan said the capital had invested heavily to hire well-qualified personnel and to procure weapons and intelligence-gathering equipment so as to thwart violent and quasi-terrorist acts.

Speaking at a session of the municipal parliament on Tuesday, Ma said Beijing authorities had set up an Anti-Terrorist Office as well as an undisclosed number of rapid-response, anti-terrorist squads.

Partly with a view to ensuring law and order in the run-up to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, he said police forces in the capital had adopted the motto of "Combating terrorism and countering violence; Preventing [crime] through multi-dimensional measures."

The China News Service on Wednesday quoted Ma as saying that after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., the Beijing police had spent a lot of money in importing "equipment of advanced international standards to fight terrorism and violence."

It is understood that apart from pro-independence groups in Xinjiang, law-enforcement officials are targeting disgruntled citizens such as jobless workers who want to vent their frustration through violent acts including bombing and food poisoning.

Independence aims

Meanwhile, the Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang, Wang Lequan, said in Urumqi that the authorities would "deal a devastating blow" to pro-independence forces in the far-west region.

At the same time, Xinjiang authorities would give priority to developing the economy, particularly the fast-growing private sector.

Wang disclosed that the autonomous region would introduce preferential policies to help non-state-sector enterprises in the areas of taxation, financing, as well as entry to sectors previously reserved for state firms.

However, the veteran party chief warned that it was mistaken to think separatist or anti-Beijing activities would decrease after the Xinjiang economy had developed.

"Xinjiang's economic development will not lead to ethnic separatists giving up their ambition to achieve independence," Wang said.

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