More security, less soccer, for China Communist Congress

Nightclubs have been raided, TV dramas targeted by censors and football matches postponed — China is tightening security and discipline to ensure a landmark Communist Party meeting passes off flawlessly.

The police and censorship organs have kicked into high gear to prevent anything overshadowing the week-long, twice-a-decade congress which opens on October 18.

The gathering is expected to hand President Xi Jinping a second five-year term as general secretary of the Communist Party, solidifying his position as the most powerful Chinese leader in a generation.

Red banners that “warmly welcome” the 19th Party Congress have appeared across Beijing and officials hope to clear the capital’s notoriously smoggy skyline when more than 2,300 delegates gather.

Mayor Cai Qi has reportedly warned the city “must hold the line for social control, eliminate all destabilising factors, hold the line for cyber security, and resolutely crack down on political rumours and harmful news”.

China often orders mass factory closures to clean up chronically polluted skies during key events, such as the 2008 Olympics.

“We have to do a good job in assuring air quality… and fight to win the war of maintaining blue sky,” Cai told city cadres, also urging them to guarantee “zero errors” in food safety for delegates and impeccable traffic control.

– Club raids –

In late September, some 400 railway security personnel held tactical exercises in preparation for the congress, China National Radio reported.

Photos showed police undergoing a hostage-taking exercise where SWAT-uniformed officers used ropes to scale a building and rescue a dangling captive.

The department had to “make every effort to prevent any dangerous thing from happening or a dangerous person from entering the capital via the railways and ensure absolute safety,” Beijing Railway Public Security Department Political Committee member Yan Li told China National Radio.

A variety of entertainment has been put on hold.

A football match between…

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