With China’s biggest annual political gathering underway, Beijing’s police have ordered something rather unusual at several pizzerias. No, we're not talking about pizza with spaghetti on top.
A dozen Americans walk into a Beijing bar... uh, not this time
Police in the Chinese capital have asked at least three restaurants and bars to keep large groups of foreigners out. Two of them were told to host no more than 10 foreigners at any one time.
“We were told that if we did not comply, our business would be shut down immediately,” said an employee at an affected pizzeria.
A restaurant manager who received the verbal order said no reason was given, but that it seemed like a measure meant to keep order during this week’s important meetings between thousands of members of China’s political elite.
It’s not that we’re going to be the ones that are starting a revolution to get rid of the party
In one of the meetings over the weekend, about 3,000 members of the China’s legislature voted – nearly unanimously – to end a two-term limit on the presidency, prompting global concerns that President Xi Jinping could become “emperor for life.”
The restaurants said police had told them the order would expire two days after the end of the meetings, which wrap up next Tuesday.
A notice at Pyro Pizza, which serves New York-style thin-crust pizza, said: “We appreciate your understanding during these challenging times.”
An employee at the pizza parlor said the police made the request in person before the weekend, and had returned regularly to check on them.
The restaurants are popular student hangouts in a college town in Beijing’s north called Wudaokou. The area is home to some of the country’s top universities, such as Peking University, as well as Google’s offices.
An officer at the Dongsheng police station, which oversees the district, denied that it had imposed specific limits on foreigners.
“We merely told bars and restaurants to control the total number of customers during peak hours,” the officer said.
It isn’t the first time Beijing authorities have targeted restaurants and bars in the city, often in the name of stability.
Before the Communist Party’s five-yearly national congress in October, many bars and clubs in Sanlitun, a nightlife district in eastern Beijing, were forced to close for about 10 days.
Fernando, a 23-year-old foreign Master’s student at Peking University who lives in Wudaokou, said that he found the measures racist.
“I can understand the party doesn’t want any tumult or incidents to make it ‘lose face’ during such an important time, but it’s a discriminatory measure against foreigners,” he said.
“It’s not that we’re going to be the ones that are starting a revolution to get rid of the party.”