TIME China

Be Glad You’re Not a Beijing Commuter

A security officer stands guard as passengers line up and wait for a security check during morning rush hour at Tiantongyuan North Station in Beijing May 27, 2014.
A security officer stands guard as passengers line up and wait for a security check during morning rush hour at Tiantongyuan North Station in Beijing on May 27, 2014 Jason Lee—Reuters

If you're visiting the Chinese capital, this could be a good time to take taxis

Fed up with your commute? Be thankful you don’t live in Beijing.

Chinese officials this week stepped up security at subway stations across the Chinese capital, leaving commuters languishing in epic (read: even longer than usual) lines. The airport-like security measures come after last week’s deadly attack in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang’s Uighur Autonomous Region, and a week before the politically sensitive 25th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square. The checks meant many waited 20 to 30 minutes before they could start their commutes, which are often an hour or longer.

Although the queues will no doubt test nerves in the capital, Beijing’s subway goers ought to spare a thought for the good people of Xinjiang. Security in the region is tight at the best of times, with police trucks parked near parks and public spaces and armed guards patrolling train stations. With the government promising a yearlong antiterrorist crusade, the show of force will probably only increase — meaning long lines, random checks and no shortage of suspicion to come.

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