Cablegate: Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics: Usg Situation Report
OO RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #3060/01 2210721
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O 080721Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 07 BEIJING 003060
DEPT, FOR, DS/IP/EAP, DS/DSS/DO, DS/TIA/OSAC, DS/P/MECU,
DS/TIA/ITA, DS/DO/P, DS/ICI/CI, DS/T/ATA, DS/TIA,
DS/TIA/PII, DS/CC, EAP/CM, S/CT, CA/OCS/ACS/EAP, PASS TO
TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (TSA) OPERATIONS
CENTER, HONG KONG FOR RSO AND LEGAT AND USSS, SHANGHAI FOR
RSO, SHENYANG FOR RSO,CHENGDU FOR RSO, GUANGZHOU FOR RSO,
USSS HQS FOR INV, OPO, HNL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2033
TAGS: ASEC CASC CH CMGT ECON KOLY OVIP PREL PTER
SUBJECT: BEIJING 2008 SUMMER OLYMPICS: USG SITUATION REPORT
REF: BEIJING 3049
Classified By: DCM Dan Piccuta for reason 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (SBU) The following cable provides information on security, public diplomacy, and consular activities related to the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games as of 08/02/2008.
2. (U) The interagency USG Joint Operations Center (JOC) can be contacted on a 24-hour basis at the following numbers: XXXXXXXXXXXX
3. (SBU) The Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games officially commence with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for 08/08/2008 at 08:08:08 p.m. Chinese officials expect a full house at the National "Bird´s Nest" Stadium for the event and authorities have begun the implementation of security measures for the ceremony. Residents in Beijing awakened to a hazy morning and poor air quality on 08/08/2008. Chinese state radio reported that the air quality was good, despite the low visibility, and was suitable for outdoor exercise and International Olympics Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge commented that China has done everything "humanly possible" to combat air pollution. China´s state media agency, Xinhua, has quoted environmental protection officials as expressing confidence the air quality will be good for the Games.
4. (SBU) The USG Delegation to the Olympics Opening Ceremony, headed by the President of the United States, arrived safely in Beijing on 08/07/2008. Separately, the U.S. Embassy forcefully protested to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) for failing to honor prior promises to provide expedited arrival courtesies following a three-hour delay in allowing members of the White House press corps to disembark from their chartered aircraft. An MFA official privately admitted the airport arrival was a "nightmare" and apologized for the confusing situation.
5. (U) President Bush inaugurated the new U.S. Embassy compound the morning of 08/08/2008. Former President H.W. Bush, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo were among the dignitaries attending the ceremony. The USD 434 million project will house approximately 950 American and locally employed staff representing more than 20 federal agencies.
6. (SBU) JOC agencies continue to discuss the potential repercussions of the proposed Beltsville Information Management Center (BIMC) power outage scheduled for 08/16/2008 and 08/17/2008. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concerns were highlighted in a formal memorandum to FBI Director Robert Mueller.
7. (S/NF) Threats: Possible ETIP Threat Discussed: According to intelligence reporting, two Norway-based East Turkestan Islamic Party (ETIP) associates on 08/07/2008 held a telephonic discussion about a possible threat to the Olympic Games. In the course of the conversation, reference was made to the number "8", the travel of an unidentified person to Beijing on 08/08/2008, and speculation about whether "it" would explode. This information has been passed to the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) and to the Ministry of Public Security (MPS). Separate reporting has indicated that in July, one of the associates made several Western Union money transfers to China; the recipient and the reason for the transfers are unknown. (Please see TD-314/058964-08, dated August 8, and TD-314/ 058948-08, dated August 7, for additional information.)
8. (SBU) Release of New ETIP Video: ETIP released a new video on 08/01/2008 stating that it has "declared war" on "vicious China." In the video, ETIP warns Muslims to keep their children away from the Games, and not to "stay on the same bus, on the same train, on the same plane, in the same buildings, or any place the Chinese are." The video shows flames consuming a Beijing Olympics logo and an explosion over a competition venue, as well as a masked, turbaned speaker clutching what appears to be an assault rifle. The group´s previous video, released in late July, claimed responsibility for a series of explosions in China and warned the international community to stay away from the Olympics or risk being harmed in "violent military actions" to be undertaken during the Games.
9. (SBU) Anarchist Blogger Calls for Violent Action against Games: An 08/04/2008 posting in the anarchist blog "shapeshifters.gnn.tv" advocated violent action against the corporations that "fund the Olympic repression in China," according to information received by the FBI. The posting proposed 08/08/2008 as a "day of simultaneous action and rebellion," and named corporate Olympic sponsors, including Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and Volkswagen, as well as Olympics offices and stores, the San Jose Airport and other "government centers, police stations, etc." as possible targets. The blog does not include details regarding the specific method, timing, or location of the planned actions. The JOC has made the U.S. Olympic Committee´s (USOC) security office aware of the potential threat and the FBI is investigating the source of this information. Diplomatic Security´s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) has disseminated the report to U.S. corporate Olympic sponsors.
10. (SB) Chengdu Authorities Monitor Alleged Bomb Threat: According to a Hong Kong-based human right advcacy group, the Public Security Bureau (SB) in Chengdu is urgently circulating an arrest warrant for four Tibetans among the city,s bus workers. The PSB noted 200 kilograms of explosives were missing and determined the four suspects had sneaked the explosives into Chengdu to conduct bombings. Separately, OSAC has received several reports from U.S. businesses with operations in Chengdu confirming the existence of the warrant and noting the level of Chinese concerns about terrorist activities in the city during the Olympics. Local media reports erroneously imply the Consulate General in Chengdu had a role in passing the names of the four suspected terrorists to PSB officials.
11. (SBU) Incidents: According to the Hong Kong South China Morning Post, a Beijing city bus caught fire along the Olympic Torch route on 08/06/2008, raising speculation that a bomb had been planted on the bus. (Bombs aboard buses in Kunming killed two people in July and a bomb on a Shanghai bus in May killed three.) However, Chinese authorities have reported to the Regional Security Officer (RSO) in Beijing the fire was a result of the ignition of the natural gas used to fuel the bus and it is not considered a security incident by Chinese officials.
12. (SBU) Olympic Protests: (SBU) Three American Demonstrators Deported: Late on the evening of 08/07/2008, Chinese officials informed the U.S. Embassy´s American Citizen Services (ACS) staff that the three Christian Defense Coalition members who had been removed earlier that day from Tiananmen Square for protesting human rights abuses in China (ref. a) had been put on a 2100 hours Air China flight bound for Los Angeles.
13. (U) More Pro-Tibet Demonstrations Promised: Two British members of Students for a Free Tibet, who were deported after unfurling Free Tibet banners near the main Olympics Stadium 08/06/2008, promised more such protests in Beijing during the Games. The two said they were detained for five hours by Beijing police but otherwise not mistreated. In an interview with French press, Philip William Bartell, the American citizen deported to the U.S. in connection with the same incident, also confirmed that he had not been physically mistreated but he was "aggressively interrogated" and was refused access to U.S. Embassy staff before police forced him buy a ticket on the next available flight from Beijing.
14. (SBU) FLO Presence at the Opening Ceremony: As reported in ref. a, Chinese officials on 08/07/2008 denied USG Field Liaison Officer (FLO) access to the National Stadium (the Bird´s Nest) during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. In response, the Olympic Security Coordinator (OSC) has purchased two Opening Ceremony tickets for the FLOs, allowing them entry into the stadium though they will not be allowed on the field with the U.S. athletes. The FLOs will be equipped with cell phones and field radios--recently licensed for use by Chinese authorities--to provide situational awareness reports to the JOC during the ceremony.
15. (SBU) Deployment of Field Radios: The OSC reports that all FLO field radios have been programmed and have received the requisite barcodes from the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG), allowing them to be operated within the city. The radios have been deployed with the FLOs and are scheduled to be tested on 08/08/2008.
16. (SBU) Hong Kong FLO Update: The Regional Security Officer (RSO) in Hong Kong reported that all FLOs have received their credentials and will receive an orientation tour of the Shatin venue from the Hong Kong VIPP Unit on 08/08/2008. FLOs will accompany the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team (USET) to Shatin this evening to attend the open ceremonies for the equestrian events.
17. (SBU) Opening Ceremony Security Measures: Chinese authorities are enacting numerous security measures in Beijing in advance of tonight´s Opening Ceremony. According to information available to the U.S. Embassy, on 08/07/2008 Chinese authorities closed access to the Olympic Green in order to conduct bomb sweeps and to secure the area prior to the Opening Ceremony. Only credentialed personnel with special opening day stickers will be allowed in the Green; access restrictions will remain in effect until 08/09/2008. In addition, Tiananmen Square was closed to the public the morning of 08/08/2008. A police officer near the square indicated to a U.S. Embassy officer that the closure might last the entire day as an Opening Ceremony-related event would be launched from there in the evening. A heads of state luncheon was hosted by Chinese President Hu at the Great Hall of the People on the west side of Tiananmen Square. The security presence near the square is heavy with People´s Armed Police guards standing every 20 meters along the northern edge of the Square. Finally, Chinese newspapers are reporting that numerous roads will be closed 08/08/2008 due to Olympics-related activities. The domestic media is urging Beijing residents (most of whom have been given the day off from work) to stay home or take public transportation.
18. (S/NF) Transportation Security: U.S. Defense Attache Office (DAO) Beijing from 08/05/2008 to 08/07/2008 observed security patrols at only three bus stops near the U.S. Embassy, despite an 08/01/2008 Chinese press report claiming additional patrols would monitor the majority of city buses and bus stops. DAO observed roughly two dozen bus stops in high-traffic tourist areas and noted no security presence at most of the stops, including those near Olympic venues. DAO also noted that four types of civilian security volunteers are deployed throughout Beijing, effectively acting as monitors for the Public Security Bureau. These include: Capital Public Security Volunteers deployed at road intersections and apartment entrances; Public Security Patrols located along major transportation corridors and public gathering areas; Public Transportation Security Patrols stationed on public buses and at bus stations; and Private Security Guards posted at critical infrastructure, malls, and commercial buildings.
19. (SBU) Airspace Security Measures: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) representative to the JOC reported that Chinese officials have extended the scope of new airspace security measures to include two arrival points in Qingdao and an area over Shanghai. As noted in ref. a, on 08/07/2008, Chinese officials issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) requiring all flights into Beijing airspace confirm the security status of their aircraft. FAA has coordinated common response terminology with U.S. air carriers entering airspace in Beijing, Shanghai, and Qingdao. FAA also noted that the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) will be closed for five hours during the Olympics Opening Ceremony.
20. (SBU) The Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on 08/08/2008, in advance of the Opening Ceremony.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS/PUBLIC DIPLOMACY
21. (SBU) Olympic Athletes Petition Chinese President Hu: Over 40 international athletes, including U.S. Olympic track stars Deedee Trotter, Lolo Jones and LaShawn Merritt, signed an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao calling for greater respect for human rights, a peaceful solution for Tibet, and the end of the death penalty. The letter appeared in the 08/06/2008 edition of the "International Herald Tribune" and was endorsed by the International Campaign for Tibet and Amnesty International.
22. (SBU) Tibetan-American Turned Around at Beijing Airport: On the morning of 08/07/2008, a U.S.-based friend of XXXXXXXXXXXX (an American citizen born in India of Tibetan parents) called ACS staff to report that XXXXXXXXXXXX had sent him a text message saying she had arrived in Beijing, but that he had also received a voice mail left by her in which he could hear Chinese voices in the background and then XXXXXXXXXXXX shouting "Don,t touch me!" after which the phone went dead. ACS made repeated calls to the PSB to determine if XXXXXXXXXXXX was in detention, but received no information. Following up on the case on 08/08/2008, a Consular Officer called the number left by XXXXXXXXXXXXs friend and spoke with XXXXXXXXXXXX, who answered the phone. XXXXXXXXXXXX stated she had been kept at the airport and questioned by airport security personnel for about 15 hours and that she repeatedly asked to call the U.S. Embassy, but was told it was after hours and U.S. Embassy personnel could not be reached. She was returned on a United Airlines flight to San Francisco.
23. (U) Yao Ming to Carry China´s Flag During Opening Ceremony: The election of NBA star Yao Ming to carry the Chinese flag is the top headline in several Beijing newspapers. Yao also carried the flag for China at Athens in 2004.
24. (SBU) Olympics Visitors: MFA contacts told us Pakistani Prime Minister (PM) Gilani will attend the President Hu-hosted leaders lunch 08/08/2008. Xinhua News reported that Burmese PM Thein Sein arrived in Beijing late on 08/07/2008 for the Games. North Korea´s number two leader Kim Yong-nam is also in town, according to Xinhua, which reported that Kim met with President Hu Jintao and his Chinese counterpart National People´s Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo.
25. (SBU) Official Protest Zones Calm; Would-Be Chinese Demonstrator Detained: No demonstrations have been observed in the three parks designated as protest zones by Chinese authorities; the U.S. Embassy has received no reports that Beijing police have actually approved a protest application. The Financial Times reports that a Beijing woman, Zhang Wei, was detained by Beijing police after she applied to hold a demonstration against the forced demolition of her home.
26. (U) China Apologies to Journalists Mistakenly Barred from Press Center: According to the China Daily, Beijing Olympics Committee officials apologized to journalists denied entry to the Press Center on 08/07/2008. The officials said the incident was caused by a misunderstanding among security guards over the type of credential needed to enter the Center.
27. (C) Tightened Security Causes "Olympics Fatigue:" A security officer at Chinese national airline Air China (protect) told U.S. Embassy Beijing that the airline has increased the number of plain-clothes air marshals on flights to and from Lhasa and Urumqi, capitals of China´s restive Tibet and Xinjiang autonomous regions, respectively. Security has become the overriding concern of Chinese authorities in the lead-up to the Olympic Games, and traffic restrictions and slow business for some retail stores and restaurants are reportedly draining away the excitement that once surrounded the Games. Beijing residents are finding that even group activities with no connection to the Olympics, such as dance classes, are being cancelled. Authorities have resorted to blunt security measures, Embassy interlocutors said, because the threat facing the Games is so undefined. As a result of the oppressive atmosphere, some Beijing residents are experiencing "Olympics fatigue." (Please see Beijing 3057, dated August 8, for additional information.)
28. (C) Olympics Shut-Down Displaces Migrant Workers: The closing of construction sites and factories in and around Beijing has forced many of Beijing´s migrant workers to return home during the Olympics. The loss of income caused by the Olympics-related workplace shutdown has caused anger and frustration. In some cases, authorities have reportedly ordered migrants to leave Beijing, and there is evidence of an unevenly implemented campaign to reduce the city´s Tibetan and Uighur populations during the Olympics. (Please see Beijing 3051, dated August 7, for additional information.)