Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

A hard question to answer in the Belgian capital

By Fu Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-23 08:37

A hard question to answer in the Belgian capital

Many Chinese travel agencies have cancelled tour plans in France due to security fears after the last week Paris attacks. [File photo]

Last Wednesday, after I had returned from covering the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, I was sitting at the table eating break fast with my son, aged 11, when he told me that the uncle of one of his classmates had been killed in the Paris attacks on Nov 13.

"Is Brussels safe?" my son suddenly asked me while drinking his milk.

My son is in his final year in a primary school not far away from European Union's headquarters in Brussels. And in September, he started to go to school on his own. He needs me to reassure him with my answer.

At breakfast, he added that he was told by classmates that soldiers with guns are protecting the European Union office buildings and patrolling the neighborhood.

I asked whether there are any police beside his school gate, he shook his head, saying no.

On hearing this, I wondered whether I should let him go to school on his own anymore. But with intention of encouraging him to be independent and brave, we still let him go last week.

However, I decided to cancel attending a forum in Paris on Thursday, which had been intended as a warm-up before the United Nations climate talks in December. At that time, terrorism was too close.

With the Belgian government saying it has concrete information that similar attacks in Paris could occur in Brussels, all of a sudden, there is the sense that terrorism may be just around the corner. The government has raised the alert to the highest level.

Fear has gripped the European capital over the weekend. Subway services have been suspended, extracurricular classes for kids have been canceled and the government has urged people to avoid crowded places such as stores, stations, restaurants and other gathering places. Police and soldiers are patrolling the streets.

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