Day Sixty-one: National People’s Congress

Security in a Beijing Hutong

Increased security in a Beijing Hutong

Melinda and I arrived in Beijing this afternoon, our third trip here since moving to China in October. Usually, I’m the one that gets to explore the city while Melinda is tied up in meetings all day long, but arriving on a Sunday afternoon gave her a few hours to get out and about with me before the grind of her week kicks in. The air quality was a “very unhealthy” 224, but considering it was less than half of last weeks 500+ we felt fortunate.
We walked to Tianenmen Square from our nearby hotel and were struck by the size of the police and military presence, a marked increase over our January and October visits. Two blocks east of the square we went through a bag check and passing through the final underground passage leading to the square we were again sent through a securiy screening; the sidewalk in front of The Great Hall of the People was closed to pedestrians and PLA soldiers lined the curb. After walking the square we headed southwest of Tianenmen toward the Sanjing hutong, headed to the Soloist Coffee shop and I was surprised at the number of soldiers and police vehicles we continued to see, including two PLA soldiers outside a shop on Dazhalan Xijie brandishing a 12 guage and an assualt rifle. At first I thought this was all a reaction to yesterday’s attack at the Kunming Railway Station, but then I remembered that this week begins the National People’s Congress here in Beijing. An interesting week to be touring the capital.

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