Beijing Locked Down Ahead of National Party Congress

August 27, 2012 7:24 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 12:30 pm
Tiananmen Gate at sunset
Tiananmen Gate at sunset on June 9, 2012 in Beijing. Beijing has issued strict security orders and mobilized troops and armed police to prevent any protest incidents in the capital before and during the Party's 18th National Congress. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

As the Chinese Communist Party’s largest national assembly approaches, where key personnel changes at the top of the regime will be made, security forces are being mobilized across Beijing, and a series of defense orders have been handed down to the rank and file, according to Hong Kong media.

A special security headquarters has been set up for the conference by the Beijing Public Security Bureau, according to a recent announcement on the city government website. Hundreds of thousands of personnel will be used to prevent any untoward incidents from occurring in the capital.

The security offensive is being driven forward as petitioners attempt to flood the capital before the 18th Party Congress, and the regime has yet to put to rest the political scandal related to the ousted official Bo Xilai; an economic slowdown also looms, which could bring further social discontent.

Defense Orders

Apart from the “political construction” of the police force, and strengthening the “vanguard” efforts of the Communist Party, hundreds of thousands of police, armed police, city guards, and community volunteers will be mobilized to support the security efforts, according to Hong Kong’s Trend magazine.

Trend, which regularly reports on the Party’s internal politics, referred to a series of Defense Orders issued by the State Council and the Central Military Commission—the Party organ in charge of the military, to prevent social unrest.

The Second Defense Order, for example, was implemented in Beijing on Aug. 18. Troops cannot take vacations to visit family, around the clock street patrols with armed police have been set up, and security personnel are to enforce strict traffic control and vehicle searches. Armed police are stationed at core areas around Beijing, a helicopter squad is on standby, and six specific incidents are to be guarded against: for example, mass assemblies, strikes, organized petitioning activities, or even traffic accidents. Tibet and Xinjiang will be placed under the second order.

A First Order will be implemented in Beijing at the crucial period from Sept. 22 to Nov. 25, when the Congress is expected to be held, Trend reported. That includes additional measures against four specific types of incidents (including undue media attention on contaminated food.)

Political Strife

The security mobilization comes amid a flood of protests to the capital and a series of political incidents within the regime.

The Party is still recovering from the Bo Xilai scandal, which began in February when the former high-ranking official’s deputy attempted to defect at the American Consulate in Chengdu. From then a split was revealed at the top of the regime, between loyalists to former Party leader Jiang Zemin, to whose faction Bo belonged, and Hu Jintao and his leadership.

Economic pressures are also increasing, according to many sources, including one of the regime’s own think tanks.

Wu Jinglian, senior research fellow of the Development Research Center of the State Council, the equivalent of the regime’s cabinet, said in March, “Corruption is out of control,” and economic and social conflicts have almost reached a “critical point.”

“The Chinese communist regime is embattled,” wrote Zhou Yahui, a commentator on Chinese politics, in a recent opinion article, according to New Tang Dynasty Television, a Chinese broadcaster.

The regime faces the most serious fiscal crisis so far, from the provincial level to the central level, Zhou said, with nonperforming loans accumulating in state banks, factional divisions at the heart of the regime, and a massive level of official corruption.

It is all accompanied by public discontent and open defiance of the authorities, he said, which has hardly been seen previously to such an extent.

Protests and Petitioners

Many petitioners, Chinese people who travel to the capital to gain redress for grievances that the legal system could not resolve, have been restrained from leaving their homes, according to Sun Wenguang, a former Shandong University professor, in an interview with The Epoch Times.

Others are put into custody immediately after registering with the Office of Letters and Calls in the capital, which is supposed to handle such complaints he said.

The efforts may be an attempt to stem the flow of petitioners before the Party Congress, when they may be inclined to flood into the capital to express their frustration with the regime.

A large number of retired military officials staged a protest in Beijing recently, according to retired military officer Mr. He. He is part of a group that is protesting not getting adequate retirement benefits, or not being compensated for injuries, or other causes of dissatisfaction with the military.

Over 10,000 petitioners visited the Office of Letters and Calls, and the Party’s anti-corruption bureau, on Aug. 15 alone, according to an article on the human rights website

The constant protests and discontent are a demonstration of the regime’s instability, according to Mou Chuanheng, a dissident in Qingdao, Shandong Province.

Shi Zangshan, a Washington-based commentator on contemporary Chinese affairs, said the uptick in mass incidents in China in recent years have “surged.” The term “mass incident” refers to the often violent protests of thousands of people, typically against officials.

Shi added: “Party officials are panicked about it, and feel that the Party is almost finished. They want to do something, but all they know is the Party’s ‘philosophy of struggle,’ and they enact these ridiculous defense orders in the capital.”

With reporting by Tang Ming.

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Editor’s Note: When Chongqing’s former top cop, Wang Lijun, fled for his life to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6, he set in motion a political storm that has not subsided. The battle behind the scenes turns on what stance officials take toward the persecution of Falun Gong. The faction with bloody hands—the officials former CCP head Jiang Zemin promoted in order to carry out the persecution—is seeking to avoid accountability for their crimes and to continue the campaign. Other officials are refusing any longer to participate in the persecution. Events present a clear choice to the officials and citizens of China, as well as people around the world: either support or oppose the persecution of Falun Gong. History will record the choice each person makes.

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