Sat, Sep 07, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Beijing cracks down early

ANNIVERSARY:The Workers’ Stadium has been closed off for national day preparations, delivery staff have been told to check IDs and packages will all be X-rayed

AFP, BEIJING

An honor guard marches before a welcome ceremony for German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. Merkel is visiting China until today.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Beijing karaoke bars are closing, toy weapon sales are banned and every delivery package is being scanned: The capital is taking no chances weeks ahead of a massive military parade to mark Chinese Communist China’s 70th anniversary.

Beijing has been preparing for the big celebration well ahead of the Oct. 1 event, with several large screens installed at Tiananmen Square, where tanks and other army hardware is to be shown off.

Security was already tighter than usual to enter Beijing’s massive square as guards sifted through every bag in a long line of local tourists heading for a visit on Thursday. An Agence France-Presse journalist was not allowed to go through.

Several kilometers away, the Workers’ Stadium had been closed off, with temporary high walls covered in fake grass surrounding the facility normally used by the soccer team Beijing Guoan.

A security guard said that the government “wants to use the stadium for the 70th anniversary preparations.”

All businesses inside the stadium, including a gym and restaurants, have been told to close between until the Oct. 1 national day.

“The government has notified us to close up,” said Joey Xu (許紅周), manager of Puerta 20, a restaurant inside the stadium. “Our staff will be offered paid vacation, but the government isn’t compensating businesses for their losses.”

Other businesses near the stadium are also closing up from the middle of this month.

“Authorities fear that businesses around the stadium that operate late into the night, especially ones with loud patrons like ours, could cause disturbances,” said a manager at Mei Karaoke bar who only offered his last name, Zhang.

The parade is expected to showcase some of the most advanced weaponry of the Chinese army in a bid to drum up patriotic fervor.

Other plans for the anniversary celebration include an awards ceremony, fireworks, souvenir stamps and coins, an official documentary and a musical.

Roads around Tiananmen Square and Changan Avenue, where soldiers will march, are to be closed this weekend for a rehearsal of the massive parade.

Beijing’s army of delivery staff — who carry hot meals and other packages across the city within minutes — have been told to reject parcels from anyone who cannot produce valid identity documents.

It forms part of a broader campaign to tighten postal security ahead of the celebrations.

The Chinese State Post Bureau last month said that all packages coming into Beijing would have to be X-rayed and individually stamped to prove they have been inspected.

Hobbyists who want to buy drones, toys with “countdown mechanisms” similar to ticking time bombs or fake land mines that can be “detonated” with a remote-control device would also have to wait until after the Oct. 1 event to place their orders.

Delivery of these items are “strictly prohibited” from Sept. 15 and Oct. 2, the bureau said in a statement.

While Beijing has stepped up inspections of potentially troublesome items offline, Sina Weibo has also started deleting online content that “insults” national heroes or “distorts” the history of the nation or the Chinese Communist Party.

China’s biggest microblogging platform on Wednesday said it had removed 14,299 posts and disabled 1,475 accounts that have “spread historical nihilism” — a party euphemism for narratives that challenge the official version of events.

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