Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Two Meetings of China 

Yesterday, the Disanji Book Building was crawling with cops. We had to sign in just to enter the building. A bunch of us often go to the food court in the basement of the Disanji Building. The Disanji Book Company has actually moved out of the building. I don't know whether they went bankrupt, or just moved out because the rent was too high. So the building is practically empty. Didn't seem to justify the number of officers. There were cops all over the place. I asked one of them why there were so many police, and she said because of the two meetings (obviously the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference). It's that time of the year again. Still, I have been in Beijing for seven years, and I have never seen anything like this.

The BBC this morning gave me the answer. Apparently, there were messages sent out throughout China recruiting people to demonstrate. Somebody wants to foment a Middle East style protest in China. Not so easy to do here. The government intercepted the messages and sent police to all of the proposed demonstration areas. The government also announced that the effort would fail, because Chinese people want stability and are happy with their government. Government propaganda statements can be pretty nauseating, but this time it is pretty much true. Young people in today's China are focused on getting ahead. And for the most part, they have jobs. Not like Egypt, where the government poured lots of money into higher education to ensure that they had a large pool of professional people, and were then unable to get work for them.

Security is pretty tight around Beijing during March every year because of the two meetings. But it does seem to be a little tighter this year. I have never heard of them actually removing propellers to make sure that planes can't fly. Seems a bit extreme, doesn't it? I don't know. I remember when I first came to China, I was at BICF one Sunday, and I walked across the lawn that separates the Twenty-first Century Theater (where the church meets) to the Twenty-first Century Hotel (where the church library and offices were). There was some sort of officer standing in front of the building. Ignorant me, I thought he was a security guard or something. I nodded to him and kept right on going toward the door to the hotel lobby. He quickly put out his white gloved hand and said, very loudly, "NO!!" I guess every PLA officer knows at least one English word. The government had commandeered the hotel to use for the twin meetings that year, and they weren't allowing anyone else in. Well, I didn't want to get blown away, so I backed off rather quickly. Crossing a security guard is one thing. But if you're dealing with someone who has orders to shoot to kill, it's better not to press the matter.

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