Preparing for the worst

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-29 19:13:01

Security device maker readies for increase in demand after European terror attacks

Since the terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium on March 22, where the EU is headquartered, concerns have grown about the effectiveness of security measures in Europe. Some have called on the government to improve security, especially at train stations, metro stations and airports. Such calls have offered an opportunity for Chinese security equipment manufacturers such as Nuctech Company Ltd, which said it is preparing for an increase in demand. Still, Chinese companies have to deal with several challenges if they want to sell their products and services more smoothly in Europe.

A police officer searches a woman at a metro station on March 24 in Brussels, Belgium. Worries are deepening in Belgium and in other European countries about the effectiveness of current security measures after bombs exploded at the Brussels Airport and a metro station in the city on March 22, killing at least 35 people. Photo: CFP

With the world still absorbing the implications of last week's terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium, calls have grown for improved security measures at major transportation hubs to prevent future attacks.

With such calls, and signals from governments in Europe to increase investment in security services, Nuctech Company Ltd, a high-tech security equipment manufacturer in China, said it is prepared for any increase in demand for its products and services in the European market.

"We have actively made preparations in areas such as product precast, delivery time, and personnel arrangement in accordance with further increases in demand from European markets," Nuctech said on Monday in a written response to questions from the Global Times.

Nuctech, which became the only Chinese company to gain approval from European authorities for exporting civil aviation security devices in 2010, is the largest Chinese security equipment exporter in the European market, according to media reports. 

Growing security concerns

Since the terror attacks at the Brussels Airport and a metro station that left at least 35 dead and hundreds injured, there has been a great deal of discussion across Europe about the effectiveness of the current security measures and the need to improve them.

A college student living in a suburb of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, who prefers to remain anonymous, told the Global Times on Monday although he "still feels safe," more needs to be done in terms of extra security, especially for some "high-risk" European cities, where security measures are lax.

"There are no security checks for public transport hubs (metro, tram and train) in general," the student said. "[Security checks] have always been unnecessary until now."

In Europe, huge amounts of resources are directed to prevent aircraft bombings and hijackings by keeping the "airspace" safe, according to the UK-based Independent newspaper. However there is "nothing secure" about some areas in airports such as the check-in and arrivals zones.

Although police have increased their presence in some cities after the terror attacks in November 2015 in Paris, France, which claimed about 130 lives, the measures are mainly "cosmetic," the Independent reported on March 23. They are intended to reassure passengers and do little to reduce the risks, it said.

With such flaws in security, some people in Europe are calling for more thorough security checks at airports, metro stations and other busy public areas.

"I think more could be done in terms of security, particularly in and around train and metro stations," said Fredrik Vold, a resident of Norway. Increased security at train stations and airports may be able to prevent some attacks, Vold told the Global Times on Monday.

Experts also said increased security personnel and equipment could help, and after the recent attacks, most European countries will invest more in these areas.

"If there is investment made [in security measures], there will be good results," said Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).

And in light of recent events, most European countries will feel pressure to make those investments, Li told the Global Times on Monday.

Market opportunities

The Belgian government has already invested 600 million euros ($670 million) in police and security services over the past two years and more is expected after last week's attacks, the Associated Press reported Sunday, citing Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon.

France, the UK and other countries have also vowed to put more resources into security, amid growing terror threats, according to media reports.

These potential investments present opportunities for security equipment manufacturers like Nuctech.

"As a world leading security and inspection solutions and services supplier, we are willing to actively work with relevant agencies to develop security measures in [public areas] to help protect the safety of Europe," the company said.

Nuctech said its products such as its Explosives and Narcotics Trace Detector, Raman Spectrometer and CT Inspection could accurately detect TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, which was used in the bombings in both Paris and Brussels.

Since entering the European market in 2003 with its first contract with Norwegian customers, Nuctech has sold more than 100 large-scale cargo and vehicle inspection systems and more than 500 small security inspection kits in more than 30 countries in Europe, the company said.

And after the terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, Nuctech signed deals with customers in the Czech Republic, Denmark and others for large-scale security inspection equipment, as well as with Dutch customers to be the country's sole supplier of small devices over the next few years, the company said.

Challenges remain

But entering the European market is not without its challenges. Li, the CICIR expert, said such challenges come in two flavors - market and political.

"The market challenges have to do with product competitiveness, but the political challenges are about whether the EU trusts Chinese companies in areas such as security," Li noted.  

Nuctech faced anti-dumping measures in 2008, and still faces higher technological standards and fierce competition from its foreign counterparts, the company said.

In addition, heightened security measures at airports have drawn warnings from an industry body in Europe. The Airports Council International Europe, which represents all airports on the continent, warned about the potential disruption caused by the possible adoption of additional security measures such as inspections of individuals and goods entering airport landside spaces.

The company did not mention specific competitors, but UK-basked Smith Detection and US-Based L3 Security & Detection Systems are reportedly the main competitors for Nuctech. Some said additional security checks could add to an already stressful flying experience and hurt the commercial aviation industry.

The company did not mention specific competitors, but UK-basked Smith Detection and US-Based L3 Security & Detection Systems are reportedly the main competitors for Nuctech.

However, other believe that security must come first. "I do feel like there is the sentiment among people in Europe that they would rather have the extra bother and cost of security to feel safer," said the Dutch student.

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