The People’s Republic of No

The Chinese Communist Party is coming to town next week for their big Congress, at which the next generation of leaders will be “elected” and announced. Because the word has gone out from on high that nothing unexpected or “un-harmonious” is to happen in Beijing, the local authorities are doing what they do best in these situations: banning ordinary activities.

According to this article in the Los Angeles Times, here are some of the things that we can’t do in Beijing for the next few weeks:

  • watch foreign TV while exercising in a health club
  • do homework online
  • buy lunch from a food cart
  • run in a marathon
  • buy a knife in a supermarket

Here’s a bit more background:

Mao Tse-tung once said revolution is not a dinner party, but the party congress scheduled to begin Nov. 8 — during which a new Chinese leadership will be anointed — isn’t looking like much fun, either.

Since last month, in the name of security, Chinese authorities have turned to various baffling regulations that are snuffing much of the life out of Beijing, and police have increased their presence to keep the capital’s streets free of problems. As a result, many residents are finding the country’s political event of the decade to be nothing more than a colossal inconvenience.

Countless public events — cultural, sporting and business — have been canceled or postponed with no explanation and scant notice.

Last I checked, though, we could still buy large drinks at MacDonalds and KFC, which is more than can be said for New York City.