It’s probably not a good time to be in Hangzhou city in eastern China this weekend if you are not a world leader coming to attend the G20 Summit.
For one, you might not get even a glass of fresh fruit juice, which for some inexplicable reason is being seen as a security threat and has been banned in many places.
Then, as a conscientious citizen of the city, one might be asked to “contribute by wiping out four pests” – flies, cockroaches, mosquitoes and rodents. A campaign to eradicate the pests has been on since March and is reaching a crescendo of sorts this weekend, according to reports in the state media.
Airports and railway stations have been on alert for days and armed personnel have been deployed across Hangzhou to keep a watch.
China has also temporarily shut down more than 200 companies around Hangzhou and imposed restriction on vehicles to keep a check on pollution. With the city under a virtual lockdown, only emergency services, shops with daily necessities and convenience stores are open.
The city of 6.5 million has begun emptying out ahead of the summit, which will see Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Barack Obama, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan flying into the city.
China’s top leadership led by President Xi Jinping will receive the world leaders.
The focus will be on reviving the stagnating global economy and the road to economic recovery.
One in three of Hangzhou’s citizens, according to state media, are leaving for the weekend, opting not to spend several days holed up in their homes.
“More than two million – or one in three – Hangzhou citizens are planning a trip during the upcoming G20 Summit to be hosted in the city, making most of the weeklong vacation granted by the city government to help ensure airtight security,” state-run website china.org said in a report.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, more than 3,900 volunteers were recruited from universities to help with the summit’s logistics.
“The volunteers, who are mostly college students and teachers who can speak a foreign language, were chosen from over 26,000 applicants from 15 universities across Zhejiang Province,” volunteer coordinator Wang Huilin said.
China is not taking lightly the criticism about the tight security for Hangzhou.
“While complaints about the undesirable security in Rio de Janeiro last month still linger, some foreign media outlets recently have dismissed the tight security measures taken by the Hangzhou authorities, saying these steps show a lack of confidence in local public security,” the nationalistic tabloid Global Times reported.
It added: “The Hangzhou summit is set to be attended by dozens of heads of states, including presidents of the US, Russia, France, South Korea, and also leaders of international organisations. With so many dignitaries present in Hangzhou, who could take responsibility for the grave consequences if there were an incident? In this sense, Hangzhou can never be too cautious about security.”