Chaos Incoming: Beijing in Lockdown

China is celebrating end of World War II and it’s Victory Against Japan on Thursday.

China is a great nation, so naturally they do like to display their military might in some kind of grand parade every now and again. That now is right now! I don’t know about you, but personally, I find such displays of power an attempt to hide the fact that one’s lacking somewhere else.. (I’ll let you figure this one out yourself)

Some find it fun and entertaining. Russians, perhaps? North Korea too. I can’t think of another country in love with military parades as these three. Correct me if I’m wrong. Nevertheless, love it or hate it, it’s happening and it’s happening here in Beijing. To everyone’s dismay mind you.
So let me tell you what we, as Beijingers have to endure for this spectacle to go ahead without a single glitch (that includes rain and people below certain height). I just realised, I called myself a Beijinger hah! Just so you know, such archaic measures as I’m about to detail aren’t just taking place during this VJ Parade on 3rd September, two weeks back we had a trial run for a weekend. It wasn’t fun and increased security across town stayed on since.

MARTIAL LAW

There are vast areas that are declared off-limits during the event and previous rehearsals that span several kilometres from the area of the parade. Local media claimed that Martial Law is in place and in fact, if you’re found in restricted areas during this time you’d be arrested no questions asked. Areas closed to public are central to Beijing and include Central Business District and areas that house most tourist attractions in Beijing.

BYE BYE NIGHTLIFE

Now I’m not sure about exact restrictions on nightlife on the date of the parade since it takes place on Thursday morning, since it is a long holiday weekend due to the parade, many may have been disappointed. If previous rehearsals are anything to go by, the city will be in complete lock down and most areas that have a host of restaurants, shops, bars and clubs were shut down during that time. I was naturally devastated that my weekend plans were ruined only with days notice.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Communication is pretty much “stay at home and watch the parade.” Ten subway lines are affected in Beijing and many closed entirely bringing the city to an almost complete stop. Stringent and somewhat ridiculous security checks on entry have been bothering us for weeks now. No mosquito spray, really? Many more bus routes are also closed, not that I use buses in Beijing. Can’t think of a more unreliable public transport than this. Need I mention that Beijing International Airport is closed for three whole hours on the morning of the parade. Those inbound planes better be stocked up on fuel, the thought of planes circling around Beijing running on fumes makes me shiver.

YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY “BIG DEAL, SMALL…”

This is a big deal for China and for Beijing. However, I can’t think of any other civilised country (North Korea excluded, obviously) that would take such measures for a celebration which would affect daily lives of millions of people and have a great impact on local businesses and tourists. If you’ve planned a trip to Beijing a year in advance and found yourself in Beijing in the past few weeks, I feel sorry for you. Two main attractions of Beijing – The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, even Wangfujing with it’s scorpions on a stick are off-limits to everyone.
I have friends living in close proximity or even within the restricted areas and many are resorting to Netflix and home cooked meals. Since they can’t even as much as cross the road, let alone get food deliveries that have become a basic human right in Beijing. So when, we in the west get a public holiday we go on a well deserved ‘bender’, in China people stay indoors eating dumplings and watching (on TV of course, it is off-limits to anyone other than Z-list politicians, I’v heard Obama did not RSVP) a well exercised parade of military might, suspiciously same height people parading and whatever else they do in synchro that is so loved in China.
It’s funny, infuriating and sad. I would have so much more to say, but I’m prepping dumplings and synching my cable so I can experience the true Chinese culture at home myself. Besides, there have been reports of people being arrested for criticising government, the parade and spreading rumours online, so I wouldn’t want to end up on a same boat with them. Stay tuned though, you never know!

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