BEIJING (dpa) – Beijing has not staged an international event of this magnitude since the 2008 Olympics. President Barack Obama and his delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit alone will fill six planes, while Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders are also sure to arrive in style and large numbers.
China aims to prove itself the perfect host for the gathering of 21 Pacific Rim countries, and is going to great lengths to make sure all goes to plan. Civil servants are being sent on compulsory leave, but have to make up for this before and after the summit. Schools will close during the meeting.
The main concerns, however, are security and pollution. China’s minister for public security, Guo Shengkun, has imposed “absolute security” on the capital over the period November 5-11. Special police units have been brought in and the number of armed military police increased. The authorities are encouraging neighbourhood watch committees to report any suspicious behaviour. Security controls – already frequent – have been extended to include almost 200 roadblocks around Beijing, and 22 new checkpoints.
Apart from security, pollution is the biggest concern. To avoid Beijing being blanketed by smog during the summit factories have been instructed to shut down, not only in Beijing, but also in surrounding Hebei Province.