Beijing clamps down ahead of Congress, bans open taxi windows

China Featured - November 5th, 2012
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China’s heavy hand is set to clamp down on public discontent days before the week-long congress that will install new leaders in a once-a-decade political transition.

With the Communist party’s conclusion of the 17th central committee that saw the expulsion of disgraced Bo Xilai, Beijing mobilized even tighter security measures ahead of the handover that begins on Thursday, including temporary bans on selling knives in stores, flying toy helicopters and rolling down taxi windows.

Taxi drivers were ordered to disable rear windows to prevent passengers from distributing political leaflets through them. Online retailers were restrained from shipping computer batteries to customers in Beijing while trucks carrying toxic chemicals have been blocked from the city during the ‘sensitive’ time, Financial Times reports.

Authorities have also stepped up Internet censors to block news websites, such as Bloomberg and the New York Times and and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. A number of people considered dissidents were put under house arrest or forced out of Beijing during the Congress.

In addition to constricting measures, more than a million “volunteers” have been deployed around the capital along with police and military forces, underlining Beijing’s nervousness faced with a build up of social pressure.