Friday, March 28, 2008


One day after I cursed the idiotic Olympics-induced paranoid that triggered the flight restriction to Beijing, I seethed again with anger at the security checkpoint at the Shanghai Hongqiao airport. I had traveled by train from Hangzhou to Shanghai in order to catch a flight back to Beijing, for ever. Now the guards were taking forever examining my toilettery bag, opening and sniffing at everything, the toothpast tube, the tiny cologne bottle, the hair gel jar, and even my dental floss pack.

"You have to check in this jar because it's over the size limit," I was told by this particularly fastidious female guard who held my hair gel jar with outstretched arms as if it was radioactive.

After they wrote down the details of that jar in a record book, I was escorted to the exit leading back to the check-in area. It felt like 911 all over again.

At the check-in counter, while the pretty attendant attached the baggage tag to my duffle bag, I asked in exasperation what had caused this...carefulness. The upcoming Olympics? The unrest in Tibet?

"Earlier this month some terrorists brought a bottle of gasoline onto a flight from Xinjiang to blow up the plane," The attendant smiled at me sweetly. "Ever since then it became really strict."

"Were they Ughigur?"

"Of course."

With the Ughigur terrorists and the Tibetan riot, the government's paranoid doesn't seem so idiotic after all.


Lu said...

I'm still kinda suspicious as to whether there really was an Uighur gasoline plot. It somehow didn't ring true to me at all, more like a ploy to make the Uighurs look bad and the Chinese look like victims. But perhaps that's my western media bias.
I also still don't get how making you check in your hairgel (and confiscating my deodorant) is supposed to make flying somehow terrorist-proof.

Beijing Loafer said...

I believe that the plotting and the subsequent arrest were actually real. The entire country's airports have implemented the stringent baggage checking routine. As to the hair gel--well, all US airports made us take off our shoes for a few years after 911. They may still do.