So apparently the world is going a little crazy lately, in North Africa and the Middle East and people are a little nervous that it’s going to spread to China.
Apparently some anonymous people put out a call for “peaceful walks” in downtown Beijing in a pedestrian area called Wangfujing.
So, that was background information for the forthcoming story.
Last Saturday, my coworker Amanda’s friend Evie (who’s also from Atlanta, team Georgia woo!) came here to Beijing for Spring Break. She’s really cool. She also has a friend who works in Beijing who is German. Also she speaks German. So anyways, me, Amanda, Evie and Nils, the German, went out to La Bamba after she got in (ostensibly to combat jet lag). Then, they said they were going to the forbidden city the next day, and I asked if I could tag along.
So, we went out to the Forbidden City, which is a pretty cool place, still. Not too much to report on that as I have been there before. Lots of red buildings and imperial artifacts. You know.
Afterwards we needed lunch because it was like, 2:00 pm. So we were like, let’s go to Wangfujing, because we know where some food is there, and it’s a cool place, and hey, we might see a “peaceful walk.”
Ha. Don’t try to go to Wangfujing at 2:00 on a Sunday these days. We went to the main entrance to the road. We saw some policemen standing around, but we decided to use our foreignness to our advantage and just walk through. We were shunted out. “Please,” gestured the policeman, “Please continue walking not down this street.” We see people are walking on the street. We ask, “is it because we are foreign?” “No, no, of course not… please continue on this way.”
So, we decided to walk around and try to get in through a side street. And… every side street was equally blocked off. This is like, six policemen or security volunteers at each entrance to two blocks or more of a street. And this includes all the little alleys that run that way too. Not to mention all the policemen standing around everywhere in the city lately. Apparently this week is also a annual or maybe biennial meeting of all the provincial bigwigs here in Beijing, so people are antsy. Even the grocery stores have more suits standing around. It’s been interesting.
But long story short, no chance of riots on the horizon folks. People are just not that into it. Apparently the only people who show up are foreign journalists who are then rebuffed by the police.
In my opinion, China of today is changing a lot. The government is changing a bit, and the way people think is changing. With incremental changes like this that I see everyday, I think people are content to just see where things go. Life is pretty good here in the city. I hear it’s not so good out in the countryside, but I really don’t think rioting is going to catch on among we city folk.
So the lesson is, you won’t be able to get into Wangfujing on a Sunday at 2:00 pm. But if you wait ’til about 4:00 ish, you’ll be able to get in and eat random animals on a stick, buy luxury goods, and get heckled as much as you might want. Which we did. It was a good day.