Jen Lin-Liu: Beijing Under Wraps

Jen Lin-Liu is the author of “Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China.” She writes this OP-ED piece in from the New York Times:

Officials have proclaimed that protesters will be able to demonstrate at locations around the city. In reality, they have rounded up numerous activists and put them under house arrest. I know of one case in which the government has locked up a dissident in a mental asylum.

Undesirables like beggars and migrant workers have also been pushed out of the Olympic spotlight, and many of them have been forced out of the city. New visa regulations have made it hard for tourists to enter the country and for long-time foreign residents like me to stay. Visa agencies estimate that thousands of foreigners have left the capital because of the new measures. The revised rules prompted my fiancé and me to move up our wedding day by several months, so I can remain in China on a spousal visa.

Community groups have organized my neighbors to don red armbands and sit on Nan Luogu Xiang, a trendy alley full of Western cafes and boutiques, to watch for “suspicious activities.” Proprietors have been told not to talk to journalists. Police officers have made sweeps of neighborhoods, where they knock on doors to ensure that everyone is properly registered at the local police station.

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