Armed police are deployed in the Sanlitun area, including the metro station and the main streets of Beijing. A police officer on the scene told the Global Times that he was deployed there in the morning but refused to make further comments on the issue. Photo: Kou Jie/GT
The US Embassy in Beijing issued Christmas Eve a notice warning of possible threats against Westerners in Beijing's Sanlitun commercial and entertainment area.
"The US Embassy has received information of possible threats against Westerners in the Sanlitun area of Beijing, on or around Christmas Day," read a notice posted on the website of the US Embassy in Beijing on Thursday.
There are no further details as of early Thursday afternoon regarding the potential threats, or if armed police stationed in Sanlitun are related to the warning, Benjamin Weber, spokesperson of the embassy told the Global Times on Thursday on a phone.
"US citizens are urged to exercise heightened vigilance, and the US Embassy has issued the same guidance to US government personnel," added the notice.
The embassy also suggested US citizens enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and to make it easier for the US authorities to locate citizens in an emergency.
The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau also issued a yellow alert for shopping malls and supermarkets to safeguard security and social order during the Christmas period, according to its official Weibo account.
Every medium or large supermarket and shopping mall in Beijing will have police stationed inside, said the bureau.
Armed police were deployed in the Sanlitun area, stationed outside nearby subway stations and on main streets.
Pictures posted on social media also seemed to show that extra armed guards had also taken positions around Beijing embassies.
Police in Sanlitun refused to make further comment but a police officer on the scene told the Global Times that he was deployed to the area in the morning without being told why.
"We've heard that there might be possible threats against Westerners around the Sanlitun area. We were planning to buy some Christmas gifts in the shopping malls, but now we've decided to go home," a Westerner named Chris told the Global Times on Thursday in Sanlitun.
Others chose to stay, saying that they find the presence of armed police reassuring.
Two foreigners stand by roadside while special policeman are deployed to guard in the Sanlitun area of Beijing on December 24. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Armed police stay guard in the Sanlitun area on December 24. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Armed police patrol in the Sanlitun area. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Roadblocks and armed police are deployed at the main roads nearby Beijing’s embassy district. Photo: Li Hao/GT