04/29/2009, 00.00
CHINA

Beijing launches massive "security campaign," restricts business visas

The real aim seems to be that of repressing all dissent and social protests. Experts: as a major economic power, China cannot continue to isolate itself from the world.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China is introducing tougher security measures and restricting entry permits, in view of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the communist state, which falls on October 1. But experts observe that the government seems more concerned about blocking protests for other anniversaries, like the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre next June 4.

Zhang Xinfeng, deputy minister of public safety, explained yesterday that a strict "security campaign" will begin in May, intended to guarantee "a steady and harmonious social environment" for the celebrations on October 1, which are also scheduled to include a grandiose military parade in downtown Beijing, attended by all the authorities.

Police will be conducting more strict controls on every kind of criminal activity, with the declared purpose of "maintaining public order." This definition often includes the repression of any form of dissent against the authorities, and of public protest for human and civil rights.

Meanwhile, travel agents complain that for two weeks, draconian limits have been reintroduced on entry permits for foreigners, similar to the ones adopted before and during the Olympics in 2008. According to sources for the newspaper South China Morning Post, it appears that all of the new business permits will expire by next September 15, while there are no new restrictions on visas for tourists or students. It appears that at least one important international conference scheduled for May in Beijing has already been postponed because of difficulties related to entry visas.

In recent months, more than 3,000 local police chiefs and 2,000 communist officials have been attending classes in Beijing on blocking protests, negotiating with demonstrators, improving the Party's image, and maintaining order. The government is putting great emphasis on these courses, which will are being taught by leaders including Zhou Yongkang, a Politburo Standing Committee member and the highest authority on matters of law and public order, and Meng Jianzhu, the national police chief.

Analysts observe that the security campaign also includes strict control of Tibet and Xinjiang, where the local populations contest the domination and restrictions imposed by Beijing, even on religious matters. It is also intended to prevent the growing social protests for economic reasons, partly a result of the financial crisis and the frequent injustices committed by companies against their workers, who are often defrauded of their wages.

Experts comment that these kinds of restrictions are not in keeping with China's role as an economic power, and that a great country does not need to use pervasive control to make the people proud of the state. They observe that the true objective seems instead to be repressing and controlling any kind of dissent and those who fight for rights, as was done for the Beijing Olympics. Some are saying that the campaign has been underway for some time, and is code named "Project 6521," because it is intended to prevent protests for the many anniversaries in 2009: 60 years since the founding of the state, 50 years since the revolt in Tibet, 20 since Tiananmen, and 10 since the banning of the movement Falun Gong.

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