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July 19, 2008

Beijing Is Taking Your Picture Too

With just under three weeks to go, Beijing is stepping up security efforts and making other preparations for the Games. Today marks the beginning of Olympic lane and even/odd license plate enforcement, but with fines beginning at only 200 CNY (about $29) for violations, Beijingers are skeptical about whether drivers will obey the new laws. Thousands of additional security cameras have been installed in hotels, subway stations, trains, buses, and on dedicated monitoring posts throughout the city. When I returned to my hotel Friday evening, city workers were installing camera posts at fixed intervals along the street. Walking around the city and looking out taxi windows on Saturday, I counted well over 100 cameras, most of which I hadn’t noticed a week ago. Bag inspection stations have been installed in metro stations and public areas, with police and x-ray scanners checking contents for weapons. Olympic staff, journalists, and spectators will pass through sophisticated weapon and contraband detection equipment once implemented in the coming weeks, and police and security personnel will be out in full force before Opening Ceremony. I’ve never felt unsafe in this city, but now it seems like everywhere I turn, someone is watching.

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