China emptied a city of millions of people for the G20 summit
The G20 summit is taking place in Hangzhou, China this weekend. This is the most significant gathering of world leaders ever held in China. In order to present an image of a clean, safe city the Chinese government decided it would be best if millions of people who live in Hangzhou left for a week. Residents were offered some incentives to vacate but, this being China, they really had no choice in the matter. From the Guardian:
In recent days, foreign journalists have been astonished and bewildered at how China’s authoritarian rulers have managed to transform a usually bustling metropolis of 6 million inhabitants into a virtual ghost town to guarantee a trouble-free summit.
More than a third of Hangzhou’s population were reportedly “convinced” to leave town as part of what Chinese state media called a massive exodus that saw cars forced off the roads and a seven-day public holiday declared.
Thousands of residents were ordered to vacate the towering apartment blocks that surround the conference centre where world leaders had gathered, to prevent an assault from above.
Dissidents were placed under house arrest or forced to leave the city by security agents.
Sam Coates, a reporter for the London Times, described Hangzhou as a “ghost town”:
How do you empty a city of millions of people? Coates calls it “Choice, Chinese style.”
In addition to the threats there were also inducements to leave:
But there were still plenty of minders throughout the city:
President Xi pronounced the summit a great success on Monday. According to the NY Times, one of his goals was to highlight the strength of Chinese communism:
The party’s resilience under Mr. Xi — on display with giant flags showing the hammer and sickle at security checkpoints — is part of the meeting’s message.
One of Mr. Xi’s provincial successors, the party chief, Xia Baolong, said the meeting would “demonstrate the great achievement of China’s opening and reform, and the immense superiority of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” the government’s description of its political and economic system.
It’s funny how Communism always winds up looking and operating like a dictatorship in practice. Thanks for the reminder, President Xi.