Beijing on High Alert as Major Party Congress Nears
With just days left until the 19th National Congress convenes in Beijing to unveil the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s next generation of ruling elite, the city is on high-security alert.
Before the congress on Oct. 18, all 300-plus members of the Central Committee, which is comprised of the Party’s top officials, are required to attend plenary sessions at the Jingxi Hotel.
This hotel is not open to the public. Run by the military, it is a venue for high-level CCP meetings. Hong Kong media reported that the hotel is currently closely guarded, with metal detectors placed at nearby areas.
Meanwhile, armed police are patrolling highly trafficked public spaces, like public squares, main streets, bus stops, and the airport. One Internet user posted on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, a photo of military guards accompanying people on the elevator at the Chaoyangmen subway station.
Supermarkets have also stopped selling knives. They are already off the shelves at many stores. One Internet user posted a video of staff at a Beijing supermarket removing scissors and razors too.
Many aspects of everyday life are being interrupted. Beginning on Oct. 12, package delivery into Beijing has ceased.
Reuters reported that when searching on Airbnb, it found properties in Beijing are not available through Oct. 31.
At the city’s gas stations, people are not allowed to buy gasoline in gas cans, Radio Free Asia reported. Residents must report to the police station to confirm their purchase, and can only get limited amounts.
In recent weeks, Chinese authorities have also been on high alert in Xinjiang, a region where ethnic tensions have escalated into violence in the past. They have also heightened censorship on the Internet and arrested citizens petitioning for their grievances. According to some petitioners, as many as 500 are being detained at a black jail in Jiujingzhuang, Beijing.