Violence taints the Beijing Games
Saturday's attack on American tourists, and continued unrest in Xinjiang, have tested the trouble-free Olympics Chinese officials sought.
In one of the safest capitals in the world, currently under surveillance by one of the tightest security operations ever launched here, Tang Yongming still managed to murder an American tourist on Saturday.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Mr. Tang was not a terrorist, neither did he have a criminal record, according to Chinese and international officials, so nobody was watching him. Armed only with a knife he offered an embarrassing reminder to the Chinese authorities – bent on ensuring a flawless Olympics – that they cannot control everything.
“This was an isolated criminal case and no city in the world today is immune from such acts,” adds Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Games’ organizing committee. “Police will now take extra security measures at tourist sites.”
Fatal attacks over the weekend
Tang, who came to Beijing a week ago according to police, attacked Todd and Barbara Bachman, parents-in-law of the US men’s Olympic volleyball team coach, as they visited a popular tourist spot in central Beijing. Mr. Bachman died of his wounds, and his widow is in critical condition after what the US embassy called a “senseless act of violence.”
Embassy spokeswoman Susan Stevenson said, “We don’t believe this has anything to do with the Olympics,” but for the Beijing authorities and for their enemies, everything that happens in China at the moment is Olympics-related.
In Kuqa, a town in the restless far western province of Xinjiang, five men died in attacks on government offices before dawn on Sunday, state media reported.
This was the second attack by presumed separatist forces using explosives in a week. Sixteen Chinese policemen were killed last week in Kashgar, after a shadowy organization calling itself the Turkestan Islamic Party issued a video threatening to attack Olympic venues in protest against what many members of Xinjiang’s Uighur people feel is repression of their culture and Muslim religion.
Chinese security officials have said repeatedly that they believe Uighur separatists pose the greatest threat to the Olympic Games, but most independent analysts doubt that they have the capability to strike in Beijing itself.
Snuffing out protests