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Beijing Turns Into a Fortress Ahead of the Communist Party Congress

Public protest — especially directly attacking Mr. Xi — is virtually unseen in the city on any day, and nearly unimaginable amid the pre-congress security thicket. The authorities quickly moved to quash it. Police officers descended on the bridge, and online censors scrubbed the photos from Chinese social media. Even a search for the word “Beijing” seemed to have been restricted on the platform Weibo, with only posts from verified official accounts appearing.
But that outburst was an exception. The paradox of politics in China is that, despite the ubiquity of propaganda, few people publicly discuss the subject. Even as banners urge residents to overflow with joy at the congress’s arrival, hardly anyone talks about the content of the meeting itself and what it might mean for the country’s future. Such questions are considered too sensitive, or simply too far from ordinary people’s control.
Still, seemingly everyone is talking about the meeting for a different reason: how disruptive it has been to daily life.
At coffee shops, friends complain that their employers barred them from leaving Beijing during the seven-day National Day vacation last week — usually one of China’s busiest travel seasons — for fear that they would not be able to return.
Walking down the street, passers-by grouse about being ordered to do extra coronavirus tests. Police officers have abruptly shut down nightclubs and restaurants, at times indefinitely, citing the need to be extra vigilant against the coronavirus.



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