Security Theater, Chinese Style
Hordes of people (giving an almost literal meaning to the saying 人山人海 – People mountain, people sea) crowded around me, all pressing forward to an unseen destination.
They were headed toward a worn out woman who waved her scanner and inspected passengers with the enthusiasm of a heroin addict.
Of course, no one took anything out of their pockets, and the bags that were put into the scanning machine rolled through without anyone taking so much as a glance at the X-Ray output to the side.
In my right pocket was an iPod, in my left a cell phone, and around my waist a steel belt buckle. Did any of these set off the least of alarms?
If they had, I wouldn’t be writing about how bad Chinese security theater is.
It was far from the first time. The funniest was when they insisted on scanning my relatively small satchel bag in the Shenzhen metro, but didn’t bother checking the sealed computer box I was carrying, which was several times larger, and could conceivably have been carrying an explosive device.
With the exception of airports, every security detection measure I’ve seen in China has been for show, a show that would only convince the most gullible that they were safer in any way. Even customs is usually a half-hearted affair, with little attention paid to those going through it, or to the bags on the machines.
I don’t think security measures are worth the costs (and if a would be terrorist wanted to carry out an attack, there are plenty of other ways to do so than to bring metal onto a plane or train), but having completely fake security measures is a double slap in the face. Taxes and time are paid for a show that doesn’t fool anyone.
How about you? What do you think of the security scanning measures in China?