Top political leaders from around the world will gather in Hangzhou, Zhejiang at the start of next month for the 2016 G20 economic summit, the first ever to be hosted in China. South China Morning Post has assembled a multimedia overview of the historic summit, documenting both Hangzhou’s transformation in preparation for the meeting and what the global forum will mean for China going forward. The following looks at how the city of Hangzhou has changed in the lead-up to the summit:
Hangzhou has gone full throttle in its face-lifting efforts. In a matter of months, the local government has constructed a new airport expressway, overhauled the city’s traffic network to make it more efficient, repaired roads, as well as built new pedestrian walkways and cyclist lanes. Work on many of these face-lifting construction works commences only after 10pm each day to avoid disrupting residents’ routines as they go about their daily lives.
To spruce up the city, the government has embedded thousands of light bulbs along the perimeters of roadside fields and installed new lights at main scenic spots and attractions. It has given buildings – especially those facing major roads – new coats of paint, built false balconies to hide unsightly air-conditioning units, as well as added window boxes with pretty plants to beautify the buildings’ exteriors. To render better-looking drone images of the city from a bird’s eye view, it has even ordered factories and other buildings to have their rooftops painted grey.
The city completed most of its revamp work by the end of June. But while officials have praised the speedy progress, it has come at a cost. For months, residents have had to put up with a significant amount of dust in the air, terrible traffic congestion and noise pollution throughout the day as the works were ongoing. [Source]
As part of the city’s effort to step up security measures, some universities in the province have banned students from campus residences and several road surfaces in the city have been sealed following security inspections. A weeklong holiday during the summit has also been granted to city workers to minimize crowds. So far, city organizers have recruited more than one million citizen volunteers to provide various services and security assistance during the summit.
Jun Mai at South China Morning Post reports that railway stations in Hangzhou and airports in Shanghai have implemented anti-terror security checks ahead of the summit:
From Monday, the Pudong and Hongqiao airports will see higher-level security checks at their entrances and exits, the Shanghai Airport Authority said on its website on Thursday.
Such checks were imposed at major traffic hubs linked to big events, the notice said, citing China’s anti-terror law that came into effect in January.
Suspicious people and prohibited items would immediately be reported to police, the authority said.
[…] Since the start of the month, the city’s railway stations had also implemented two-level security checks for passengers departing for Hangzhou, the report said.
Before this, train passengers only had to undergo one check upon entering the railway stations.
The checks were specifically aimed at weeding out hazardous liquids and explosives, according to the report. [Source]
Hangzhou will also roll out a temporary road space rationing scheme in the coming weeks to reduce traffic flow and prevent road congestion. Truck and tractor drivers in the city will also face temporary restrictions. Nectar Gan at the South China Morning Post reports:
In a notice posted on its website on Sunday, the Zhejiang public security bureau said the restrictions would apply for 10 days from August 28 to September 6.
The limits include forcing half of the city’s cars off the roads from 2am to midnight each day, depending on their number plate. Cars with odd-numbered plates will be restricted to odd-numbered days, and those with even numbers to the remainder.
[…] All vehicles transporting “firearms and ammunition, civilian explosives, fireworks, highly toxic chemicals, and radioactive substances” will be banned from Zhejiang roads for the 10 days.
Traffic control measures are often imposed in Chinese cities hosting key international events to ease congestion and air pollution. Similar limits were in force during the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing. [Source]
These changes have sparked rampant speculations online. One Weibo user claimed that security officials ordered him to take one sip from all the water bottles stored in his car. To separate fact from fiction, Kristin Huang at the South China Morning Post busted seven myths about the upcoming G20. Hangzhou authorities have also issued a statement dispelling rumours that businesses would be required to close during the summit, Global Times reports.
Elsewhere, the South China Morning Post’s Cary Huang looks at how Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to top China’s guest list for the G20 summit.
A senior Chinese diplomat made no secret China’s intentions this month, telling media that Putin would be guest No 1 at the annual gathering of leaders from the world’s most influential nations and largest economies.
[…] “With China being the host this year, efforts will be made to show that Putin is an active player and that he is not isolated,” Gabuev said, contrasting that to last year’s G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, where he said Putin was also marginalised.
Diplomats will be focused on the interaction between Xi and Putin at the summit, looking for any clues on the development of one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships.
[…] Chief among them is the escalation of tension in the South China Sea following the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s landmark ruling in The Hague on July 12 that denied China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. Another recent development of note is cooling of the relationship between China and South Korea following Seoul’s decision to allow the US to deploy its Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea in response to North Korea’s ambitious nuclear programme. Relations between China and Japan have also deteriorated due to increasing confrontation over a territorial dispute in the East China Sea. [Source]
Meanwhile, in an open letter, rights activists are calling on G20 leaders to speak up against China’s human rights violations during the summit.