Inside China: Games warned of terrorist threats

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The Independent Online

Beijing has been put on red alert with the countdown to the Olympics quickening. As we report on these pages, some 100,000 troops and police will mount an unprecedented security operation, backed by a volunteer force of over half a million. You might think that China, with its massive military resources and acute political antennae, would be the last place susceptible to a terrorist attack. But a senior security source revealed last week that three "significant" threats have been received, and police have arrested 82 people in five separate suspected terrorist rings for allegedly plotting attacks against the Games. Meng Hongwei, the deputy minister for public security, said threats had come from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and that arrests had been made in the traditionally Muslim Xinjian region of western China, where separatist groups operate. While pro-Tibetan groups are also considered a danger, the major concern is a terrorist attack from the skies, judging by the missile launchers and other military hardware now visibly stationed half a mile from the main Olympic complex.

Human rights? 'We're doing it our way'

Wang Hui is not an Olympian, but hers is the Chinese name we are most likely to become familiar with once the Games get under way. The diminutive 53-year-old is the official mouthpiece and spin doctor for the organisers – Beijing's Alastair Campbell, as it were – and will certainly have a lot to say. A sample on human rights: "Just 30 years ago, a short time in our history, China was unable to provide sufficient food and shelter for everyone who lived here. Now we can say we have satisfied the most basic of human rights for our 1.3 billion people."

Aldridge back on the road again

Blake Aldridge, the diving partner of Tom Daley, has survived an injury scare which could have put him and young "Phenomotom" out of the Games synchro event. Aldridge was knocked off his motorcycle in an M25 mishap recently, gashing his elbow to the bone. The wound, which became infected, has restricted his training but he has been given medical clearance to travel with the 14-year-old Daley to Xi'an, home of China's own prolific diving squad, where they will be based before moving to Beijing. "It was nasty and very worrying at the time but I am relieved everything is now OK," he tells us. However, his sponsors, the office equipment company Apogee, not wanting the wheels to come off his medal hopes, have supplied Aldridge, 25, with a car.

Rubbery grub provides food for thought

Visitors to Beijing should not expect the sort of Chinese tucker dished up at their local takeaway. Forget crispy duck and chicken chow mein. Number 42 is more likely to be from parts of the animal you'd prefer not to know about, tasty as some may be, if a bit rubbery. Menu descriptions in English are being changed so as not to alarm. "Husband and wife's lung slice" becomes "beef and ox tripe in chilli sauce" and "chicken without sexual life" is now "steamed pullet". However, we managed to resist the spicy Sezchuanese dish apparently made of tofu labelled "bean curd made by pockmarked woman". Enjoy.

Becks already a winner in Beijing

If China awaits one thing as much as the arrival of the Olympic torch in the Bird's Nest Stadium next month it is that of David Beckham. Becks is big in Beijing, and will be even more so when, at the closing ceremony, he lines up with an eight-year-old Anglo-Chinese girl, Erika Tham, to kick a football into the crowd from a double-decker London bus.