News / Asia

    Amid Heavy Security, China Readies for Leadership Handover

    Policemen and members of the Special Weapons and Tactics practice dispersing crowds ahead of next week's 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, in Zhengzhou, Henan province, October 30, 2012.
    Policemen and members of the Special Weapons and Tactics practice dispersing crowds ahead of next week's 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, in Zhengzhou, Henan province, October 30, 2012.
    VOA News
    Senior Chinese Communist leaders have gathered amid heavy security for a closed-door meeting in Beijing, where they will put the finishing touches on a once-a-decade leadership handover that officially begins next week.

    China's state-run Xinhua news agency said the final gathering of the Communist Party's 17th Central Committee opened Thursday. The short memo said that changes to the party's constitution and other proposals are being discussed.

    The meeting, expected to last for about a week, will likely result in the formal expulsion of disgraced politician and former Politburo member Bo Xilai, who is expected to soon stand trial for corruption and other charges.

    It also represents one of the last chances for Communist leaders to haggle over party leadership positions to be unveiled at the 18th Party Congress beginning next Thursday.

    Bo's case, along with several other high-profile corruption scandals, have placed Communist leaders on edge ahead of the already sensitive transition, with security being ramped up across the capital. Xinhua says 1.4 million people have volunteered to help police "maintain stability" during the meeting.

    Many public events have been cancelled or postponed in Beijing, and some areas have been declared off-limits. Some stores throughout the city have been told not to sell knives, scissors or other potentially dangerous items.

    Chen Ziping owns a toy shop in Beijing and says even small, remote-controlled helicopters have been banned.

    "This kind of craft cannot fly long distance and it can hardly carry anything," he said. "They just told me to stop selling and I have to follow the order."

    Police are carrying out random security checks with increasing frequency.

    Rachel Lu is editor of Tea Leaf Nation, a website that monitors Chinese social media. In an interview with VOA, she said that some taxicab drivers have even been instructed to modify their vehicles to ensure that passengers do not use windows to distribute leaflets with what the state calls "adverse information."

    "If you're taking a taxi, you'll probably notice that in the back seat where you can roll down the window, the knob has been taken off by order of the police. And the argument from the police apparently is that you can't roll down the window and distribute leaflets," Lu said. "And we're seeing discussed on social media that even if you're sitting in the front seat, the taxi driver is supposed to stop you from rolling down the window to prevent you from distributing a leaflet."

    Lu said the massive security lockdown, which Tea Leaf Nation described as "war-like" has prompted complaints on China's microblog Weibo, with many wondering if officials are overreacting.  But much of the reaction has been humorous, she said.

    "People are sort of making fun of these measures, and basically asking what are [the authorities] afraid of. And no one knows the answer to that question: why is it so extreme? But I think people are kind of just taking it as it is, kind of making fun of it," said Lu.

    But Renne Xia, the international director of a group called Chinese Human Rights Defenders, warned that the crackdown is extremely serious and more pervasive than anything the country has seen before other big political events.
     
    "People being stopped from going outside their homes, traveling to Beijing or Shanghai or the provincial capitals, said Xia. "Lots and lots of petitioners being intercepted."

    Two factors appear to be driving the crackdown, said Xia. First, the political corruption scandal surrounding former Politburo member Bo Xilai has exposed the ugly underside of China's internal power struggle.  The other factor, she said, is the use of the Internet, making it quicker and easier for anyone to spread opposing views.

    "Certainly, no government today, no matter how organized, intimidating and starting this web crackdown can actually control every expression. There are so many ways online to do this sort of opinion airing."

    Xia said its impossible to say whether the Chinese security crackdown will ultimately backfire, but added it shows how scared Communist party officials have become.

    As for the security measures themselves, the Communist Party-controlled Global Times acknowledged Thursday  that "some netizens have cast doubts over such keen preparations." But the paper also insisted that any disruptions to daily life are worth the cost of creating a "favorable environment for a smooth Congress."

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Police Chief David Couper from: USA
    November 04, 2012 4:33 PM
    The way police throughout the world will be judged in the future is how well they perform as both peacekeeper and protector. So how they respond to public protest is something everyone should be concerned. The goal in every society is to select and train police who are well-trained and led, restrained in their use of force, honest, and courteous to every person. For more on this and other important police improvement issues, see “Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police” (Amazon.com). And my blog at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com/ where other current police improvement issues are discussed.

    by: Samurai from: Japan
    November 02, 2012 2:23 AM
    Nobody in the rest of the world can understand why heavy security is required every time in China to translate the political power to the next leader. Does a Chinese leader have a guilty conscience for corruption and transfer of money to foreign countries, like Mr. Wen Jiabao? Even though leaders are replaced, freedom and even human rights are not given to Chinese people.
    In Response

    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    November 02, 2012 12:50 PM
    Why US president has to speak behind a bullet proof glass to his people? Does a US president have a guilty conscience for corruption and mess up the economy?
    Even though US president is replaced, unemployment, campus shooting, food stamps are still there waiting for American people.

    by: Anonymous from: China
    November 01, 2012 11:15 PM
    What exactly is it that make the Chinese authority so scared?

    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    November 01, 2012 10:36 PM
    nice equipments! If the CCP had these equipments before there wouldn't be Tianmen square incident.
    Sure these are copies from the west including the tactics of suppressing people.
    In Response

    by: remie from: Canada
    November 04, 2012 1:36 PM
    @jonathan, for a patriotic chinese u r in the wrong country. Oh yeah u ESCAPE china or ur parents did for better life. The way u write seems like u hate Canada. GO BACK TO CHINA where u can be tatriotic all u want and defend ur brothers
    In Response

    by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
    November 03, 2012 9:43 AM
    @ Hoang. What I am doing in Canada? I am doing the same thing Europeans did 400 years ago in America, OK? LOL
    Ask me to go back China? Why dont you ask europeans to go back Europe? African american to go back Africa?
    In Response

    by: Hoang from: Canada
    November 02, 2012 10:35 PM
    Jonathan Huang,
    What are you doing in Canada? Go back to China.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora