G20 Summit needs tighter security, period!

Updated: 2016-07-29 07:57

By Cui Shoufeng(China Daily)

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G20 Summit needs tighter security, period!

Participants attend a 100-day countdown launch event for the Group of 20 (G20) 2016 summit in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang province, May 27, 2016. More than 5,000 staff and volunteers preparing for the summit attended the countdown launch event in Huanglong Stadium of Hangzhou on Friday. [Photo/Xinhua]

Big events, no matter where they are held, always draw attention, and criticism. The upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, is no exception. Speculations have been rife over the mega-diplomatic event-from the cost of hosting the summit to the strengthening of security measures.

The Hangzhou local government has vowed to host the big event at the lowest possible cost. True to its promise, it has not even built a new conference hall. Instead, it has just upgraded and renovated existing buildings to showcase Chinese architecture.

Speculations on the strengthening of security in the city, however, are uncalled for, because cities across the globe that play hosts to important international events have to beef up security, especially because of the growing risk of terrorist attacks. And as the host country, China cannot take any chances with the security of the delegates to the summit that will comprise 20 heads of state or government.

Despite not being a victim of the ongoing refugee crisis plaguing European countries and thus fearing terrorists would enter the country in the garb of refugees, China cannot let its guard down. During last year's G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, at least 12,000 police officers and a slew of army checkpoints were put into service.

The 2014 summit in Brisbane, Australia, saw the deployment of 6,000 police officers and 1,900 troops, establishment of a no-fly zone in a wide area over the convention center, and enforcement of special rules that gave more power to police officers and prevented people from entering certain areas with items such as eggs and surfboards.

High-profile international meetings like the G20 Summit can be an easy target of unruly protesters, even terrorists. Australia and Turkey learned a lesson from the clashes that erupted at previous G20 meetings and beefed up their security. In particular, the one in Toronto, Canada, six years ago saw the arrests of more than 1,100 protesters within a week amid reports of police brutality.

Enhanced security measures may be causing some inconvenience to Hangzhou residents, especially to daily commuters, and increasing the possibility of traffic jams and longer queues in metros. Complaints have also been made against more frequent checks on identification cards, which some local residents do not usually carry.

Some people's frustration is understandable, but tightening security before and during major events is an absolute necessity in these times of terrorism fears.

Hosting a major international event comes with a cost. However, for the host city and country, it can boost their images and the economy. That explains why Australia spent about 100 million Australian dollars ($87 million) on security alone during the Brisbane summit.

Besides, hosting a successful G20 summit can help China enhance its soft power and enable it to play a bigger role in global governance. In a recent survey conducted by the Zhejiang University of Technology on how Hangzhou residents see the G20 Summit, more than 97 percent of the respondents said they take great pride in it and most of them promised to improve their civic behavior ahead of the summit.

Hangzhou residents' support and enthusiasm should be taken seriously but not for granted. Still, the Hangzhou authorities are obliged to ensure the security measures cause minimum inconvenience to local residents. In this context, inviting more locals to participate in the preparations and offer suggestions would be a worthwhile effort.

The author is a writer with China Daily. cuishoufeng@chinadaily.com.cn