Among flowers, police, PCR, Beijing shields itself before CCP Congress

By Guillermo Benavides

Beijing, Oct 14 (EFE).- Flowers, flags, a lot of police and Covid-19 preventive measures characterize the scene of the XX Congress of China’s Communist Party, which begins Sunday in Beijing.

The streets of the capital show extensive police deployment and strong security measures, more palpable in the vicinity of the central Tiananmen Square where the Great Hall of the People is located.

The venue will host the five-yearly meeting that will bring together about 2,300 party delegates and in which President Xi Jinping is expected to obtain an unprecedented third term among his most recent predecessors.

At the same time, points of the city such as the main roads have been adorned with flags and floral decorations to show the most captivating side of it in a week in which all eyes will be on Beijing.

According to local media, the province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, has been ordered to limit the production of its steel industry to guarantee some yet-to-be-seen blue skies ahead of the congress.

The main intersections of the city have seen how the once anarchic circulation of electric motorcycles driven by delivery men has been measured in the face of the police presence on almost every corner.

“I was cycling home and when I stopped at the fourth ring road the police randomly checked my identification,” a young woman in Beijing told EFE.

The police have also established checkpoints and will be able to restrict access to the busiest metro stations and those closest to the main points of interest during the congress.

On previous occasions, shops, bars and restaurants have been affected by this type of event, with orders to limit their capacity and opening hours, and even to close.

However, according to Rodrigo, a partner in a Mexican food restaurant located in an emblematic building in the center, “this year they haven’t told us anything, but it feels like people don’t go out.”

The control measures also extend abroad, with many citizens facing difficulties in being able to return to Beijing.

Numerous residents who traveled during the National Day holiday week in early October were left stranded after receiving a notification from the Covid-19 tracking mobile app that prevented them from boarding trains or flights back into the city.

“Please delay your trip back to Beijing until the risks related to covid are ruled out,” read the notification received by thousands of travelers in recent days as they tried to return to their homes.

Faced with this situation, many affected left desperate messages of help on Chinese social media platform Weibo, but these were censored Monday.

Some who managed to arrive, in addition, received a notification on their Covid-19 tracking application that required them to undergo multiple PCR tests to access public spaces, even though they came from areas without cases.


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