BEIJING, Aug. 30 -- The first batch of Chinese air marshal forces are expected to fly to the United States next month for a two-week anti-terror training programme, the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) said on its website yesterday.
This marks the first overall co-operation between China and the US in the field of aviation security.
The 18-member team will have training sessions and tactics exchanges with their US counterparts at the specialized air marshal training and human resource facility in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the industry regulator said.
They will be deployed to serve on China-US flights operated by domestic airliners once they have completed the programme.
To ensure flight safety and security, China and the US agreed on April 9 to deploy air marshals on board their respective flights entering and exiting the other side's territory by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on bilateral co-operation.
US airlines deployed air marshals for the first time on flights to China on August 9 thanks to the MOU, the CAAC said, without specifying the names of the particular airlines.
Since the attack on September 11, 2001, the world's civil aviation security has been under threat from international terrorists, warned Yang Chengfeng, director of the Department of Public Security under the CAAC.
"The latest terrorist plot that was thwarted by British police at Heathrow Airport on August 10 once again alerted the industry that the terrorist threat still lingers large in various forms," Yang was quoted as saying in a news release posted on CAAC's website.
"So collaboration is urgently needed between China and the US, particularly in the field of security checks, tactics, information, air marshal training and law enforcement," he added.
At least 2,000 Chinese air marshals have served on domestic and international air routes since the forces were built up in 2004.
Most of the air marshals, who do not wear uniform, are made up of existing airline security personnel who have received extra training, along with volunteers from the police force. All have been given rigorous courses in arrest techniques, negotiating tactics and crisis management.
The CAAC declined to disclose any detailed information about its air marshals due to the "special" nature of its mission.
(Source: China Daily)