The Communist Party of China (CPC) is leaving no stone unturned to prevent the possible threats to its mega political event -- the National Congress of the party-- scheduled to start in Beijing Nov 8.
According to the Chinese authorities, the possible threats range from pigeons to ping pong balls and from pencil sharpeners to balloons and toy planes.
As a Reuters report put it, “Potentially sinister threats to China's ruling Communist Party sit unnoticed in cages perched on a rooftop above a small alleyway in southwestern Beijing,” and they will have to remain in their cages till the CCP’s 18th congress is over.
The CPC is getting ready for the congress that is touted as the event of the decade. The authoritarian regime is worried of sinister forces and dissidents in all forms threatening the secrecy of the establishment and has put stringent security measures to prevent any leakage of information or expression of dissidence during the event.
Some of the precautions appear too bizarre and funny. But the Chinese government, which is struggling to maintain secrecy and stability after a slew of high level political scandals, knows that even a ping pong ball with dissident messages can expose its vulnerability.
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Pigeons which are reared in China as a hobby had created a headache to the authorities even in the past. Dissidents had left hundreds of pigeons into sky with anti government messages on ribbons tied to the bird’s feet, leading to their ban during important events in the past. So the feathered flock has no chance of ruffling the all important meet even this time.
Even balloons are banned as they can be a possible threat to the event. Remotely controlled toy planes also face a ban.
Knives and other tools are barred as usual, but even pencil sharpeners are out of the store shelves for reasons which are known only to the Chinese police, an Associated Press report has said.
"I was told by the police that no more knives can be sold, not even pencil sharpeners. And I don't think the shopkeeper was kidding, because several days ago I saw myself that police were asking the sales assistants in the stationer's not to sell pencil sharpeners,” Chen Jieren, a Beijing resident, told the AP in a telephonic interview.
Security is tightened in the city with extra police forces deployed in important roadways, subway stations and the core areas. The taxi drivers are asked to disable the “door handles’ using child locks or remove them and to seal the windows to avoid the commuters from throwing leaflets or similar objects with messages of dissidence.
“During the 18th Party Congress period, taxicab drivers are to be on guard for passengers carrying any type of ball. Look for passengers who intend to spread messages by carrying balloons that bear slogans or ping-pong balls bearing reactionary messages,” an advisory by the traffic police read.
The taxi drivers are asked not to take people with bags to the restricted areas during the event while the police have rounded up and forced thousands of residents to move out of the city to boost the security.
No To ‘Death’ And ‘Die’ On Internet, TV
Last week, the Chinese government took extraordinary precautions which seemingly went to the level of absurdity when it ordered the media not to air news or songs with the words “death,” “die,” “down” or even “party congress.” These words are banned online and search with these words are screened too.
The excessive restrictions have forced the residents to vent their anger on the micro blogging sites.
"In the face of these absurdities, we are powerless," a micro blogger wrote. "It's a reminder that no matter how ridiculous and comical, this is an era that we can't laugh in," the post read.
The government has banned all private, public, academic, literary, cultural and even sports events scheduled to be held during the period.
The congress would see the transfer of power within the CPC as President Hu Jintao is expected to anoint Vice President Xi Jinping as his successor.