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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs