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the article scared me because i asked myself, is beijing going to be attacked soon in the future so that the report is released here? the Tian'anmen square is always full of people, and chinese don't have any safety knowledge to protect themselves. if that really happens, they don't know what to do and most likely, don't have the ability to follow the instruction, if there will be any. also, the news report seems to tell terrorists what they should do to avoid their actions to be stopped by the authorities. the beijing government has prepared for terror attacks and tells terrorists what it did for that. gosh, tells them where is the important location and what should be done to attack as many people as possible... if terrorists know the city's plan, they won't do it based on authorities' ideas, but rather, they may choose a less important place to make damages. sigh, seems there's no way to totally protect people from being attacked, just like Moscow railway explosion. who the hell can predict when and where will a fatal attack? |
Scientist called on to ready Beijing for terror gas attack
south china morning post
If a terrorist group released anthrax spores in Tiananmen Square, the mainland's most politically important landmark, what would be the best direction for tourists to choose as they ran for their lives?
The central government has asked Professor Liu Shuhua , deputy director of the department of atmospheric sciences at Peking University, to find the answer.
There are straight, wide boulevards on the western and eastern sides of the square. Each is one-way and each is five lanes wide. For decades, they have been regarded as the best escape routes should an emergency happen on the square.
But the conventional routes could be fatal, according to modelling by Liu and his team. With a southwesterly wind, for instance, most of the anthrax spores would be blown to the eastern boulevard and, following some counterintuitive principals of aerodynamics, stay there.
While China is not as threatened by organised terrorism as the United States, because it is not fighting wars overseas, the threat level has been increasing as the country becomes more open to the world and hosts international events such as the Olympics and World Expo.
Moreover, separatist riots in Xinjiang last year and Tibet in 2008 have prompted fears of terrorist suicide attacks in big cities.
Beijing, thanks to the Olympics in 2008 and last year's celebration marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic, is prepared, according to observers.
But most other mainland cities, such as Guangzhou, have yet to update conventional counterterrorism measures with the latest technology, leaving citizens vulnerable.
The central government was trying to think from the terrorist's point of view when coming up with defensive strategies, Liu said.
"If you are a trained terrorist, you will want to choose a time and a location to release the toxic gas so that it can kill the maximum amount of people," he said. "We have pinned down all possible locations."
For instance, when a northwesterly wind blows, as is often the case in Beijing, the optimal location would be in a car on Changan Avenue, to the north of the Great Hall of the People. The toxic gas would spread quickly to a large area on the square.
"When such an incident happens, a security department of the government will use software and a super computer that we developed for them to determine the dispersion pattern of the toxic gas," Liu said.
"They will have the result in less than a minute, together with the safest escape routes.
"We have most of the city's landmark areas in the database. We have done tests. The results are very good.
"The government has invested a lot of money in the project. They are very concerned."
But not all governments in big mainland cities are as technologically savvy as Beijing.
Lin Wenshi , an associate professor in the school of environmental science and engineering at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, is one of the few researchers in Guangdong specialising in atmospheric modelling.
He said he had contacted the Guangzhou city government a number of times, offering to help it set up a system to counter toxic gas attacks.
"Guangzhou is an international metropolis now. It is hosting the Asian Games later this year," Lin said. "There are several spots, such as Beijing Road and northern Tianhe, that are ideal for a terrorist group to launch a toxic gas attack.
"But the city government is still relying on conventional measures, such as gas masks and fire trucks, to combat trained terrorists. They have yet to recognise the importance of scientists in the war against terror."
A Guangdong-based government security specialist said most of China was unprepared for an attack by trained terrorists.
"We are, in fact, quite slow to recognise the importance of security study and research. For a very long time, our security work has been centred on crime prevention, mass incidents [protests] or counter-espionage work. Very few people thought about the possibility of terrorist attacks," he said.