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China steps up bio-terrorism defenses

China is on heightened alert for a biological attack
China is on heightened alert for a biological attack  

BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Beijing is building up a comprehensive system against biological terrorism, which may include military rapid-response units against bio-chemical attacks.

An article in the current issue of the official Outlook Weekly said the army should put together a rapid-response unit with capacity to fight both biological terrorism and biological warfare.

The Weekly said China must put together an authoritative task-force to formulate and carry out a "long term, medium term and short term plan against biological terrorism."

This department should incorporate officials from government units in areas including politics, foreign policy, the army, health, medicine, police, state security, communications, quarantine, and the media.

Western military analysts said the People's Liberation Army already had units specializing in bio-chemical warfare -- and that units were expected to undergo further training to cope with bio-chemical terrorism.

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In a routine briefing on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said China had already completed detailed plans to prevent and combat all kinds of terrorist incidents, including bio-chemical attacks.

He said there would be more stringent inspection of certain categories of people, luggage and goods moving in and out of the border.

Sun added China had enough medical supplies and related facilities to protect the public in the event of a bio-chemical terrorist attack.

Official papers on Friday said police had arrested at least three people in connection for mailing letters containing white powder to government offices and former employers.

Two men were detained in Shanghai and one in Guangzhou for hoaxes and intimidation.

A man surnamed Huang was arrested in Shanghai for mailing two letters containing starch to government offices in a certain city. Huang later said he wanted to "get attention."

The official China News Service reported that a recently sacked worker in Guangzhou had mailed a letter to his former employer which contained "white power bacteria." The worker also threatened to blow up the company building.


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