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Terrorism 'biggest threat' to Beijing Olympics: police chief

india Updated: Sep 11, 2007 11:28 IST

Terrorism poses the biggest threat to the success of next year's Beijing Olympics, China's police chief said in comments published on Tuesday.

"Although the general security situation for the Beijing Olympics remains stable, we still face the challenges of terrorism, separatism and extremism," the China Daily quoted Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang as saying.

"Terrorism, in particular, poses the biggest threat."

Zhou was speaking on Monday at an international conference on security cooperation for the Olympics.

Vice Minister of Public Security Liu Jing told the meeting that some ethnic minority groups in the region and "international terrorist and extremist groups" might launch attacks at the event.

The report did not elaborate on who might target the Olympics, but China has previously blamed some Muslim Uighurs in the nation's far western region of Xinjiang for terrorist activities.

In the story on terrorism, the China Daily also highlighted comments from Liu that appeared to target human rights groups and other critics of China who have sought to use the Olympics to highlight their concerns.

"Some organisations and individuals had tried to politicise the Olympics and intervene in China's international affairs, and some others were planning to disrupt the Olympic torch relay," the paper paraphrased Liu as saying.

Police in China last month deported eight foreign Tibet independence activists after they came to Beijing during the one-year Olympic countdown celebrations to protest against China's rule over the territory.

The leaders of the international press watchdog Reporters Without Borders also came to Beijing and staged a protest during the one-year countdown.

While the English-language China Daily, which caters for mainly a foreign audience, placed the terrorism fears on its front page on Tuesday, most of the Chinese-language press either ignored or downplayed the comments.

The Chinese press that did report on the public security ministry chiefs' comments instead focused on the fact that Beijing will receive help from Interpol during the Olympics.

"Interpol will help China monitor and take preventative measures against potential terrorists through its global lost and stolen passport database," the Beijing News quoted Ronald Noble, Interpol's Secretary General, as saying.

China will have automated access to Interpol's passport and visa application screening processes, giving it the most advanced early detection system against fake travel documents, Noble said.