Terrorism and Beijing Olympics

"There is a danger the East-Turkestan terrorists, I am sure, will do something to attract people's attention," said Mei Jianming, an anti-terrorism expert with Chinese People's Public Security University. "But it's hard to say how many members there are in their organization, what kind of plans they have, what specific acts they will take to undermine the Beijing Olympic Games."

It is unclear why Chinese officials chose not to reveal the incidents earlier. Beijing has five months before it hosts the Games, which will attract 10,000 athletes and hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors.

Some are querying Beijing's motive behind these announcements.

"When China has made allegations of terrorist activity, it doesn't back it up with evidence and restrictions, making it impossible for independent investigators to verify," said Mark Allison, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Amnesty International, in an interview with The Associated Press.

As host, China has legitimate and serious safety concerns, Allison said. But Beijing's claims draw suspicion because of the communist regime's record of repressive policies, and its regard for even peaceful protests as a threat to national security, Allison said.

"Without evidence, their claims are open to question," Allison said.

Already concerns about Beijing's air quality have led at least one Olympic record-holder to drop out of this year's games. Haile Gebrselassie announced Monday morning he will not run in the marathon due to pollution fears. The Ethiopian runner suffers from asthma and pollen allergies.

In an interview with Reuters, he said that "the pollution in China is a threat to my health, and it would be difficult for me to run 42 kilometers in my current condition."

Now, questions are also being raised about security at the Olympics.

Wang Lequan said Chinese authorities have a first-strike policy toward the "three evil forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism.

Terrorism remains a relatively minute threat in China, but there is a small group of Uighurs in Xinjiang that have called for independence. Some rights groups and security experts have accused the Chinese of fabricating or exaggerating the threat from the mainly Muslim minority to justify clamping down on secessionist sentiments.

"We are prepared to strike them when the evil forces are planning their activities," Wang Lequan said at the parliamentary meeting.

"The Olympic Games slated for this August is a big event, but there are always a few people who conspire sabotages. Those terrorists, saboteurs and secessionists are to be battered resolutely, no matter what ethnic group they are from."

Associated Press contributed to this report

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