Sunday, August 10, 2008

Authorities order bars not to serve black people

BEIJING 2008
Tom Miller
Jul 18, 2008
South China Morning Post

In our series looking at preparations for the Games, Tom Miller reports on plans to crack down on "undesirables" in the bars of Beijing

Beijing authorities are secretly planning to ban black people and others it considers social undesirables from entering the city's bars during the Olympic Games, a move that would contradict the official slogan, "One World, One Dream".

Bar owners near the Workers' Stadium in central Beijing say they have been forced by Public Security Bureau officials to sign pledges agreeing not to let black people enter their premises.

"Uniformed Public Security Bureau officers came into the bar recently and told me not to serve black people or Mongolians," said the co-owner of a western-style bar, who asked not to be named.

The local authorities have been cracking down on blacks and Mongolians in an attempt to stamp out drug dealing and prostitution ahead of the Games, the proprietors said.

A few months ago, police launched a violent sting on black men drinking in the Sanlitun bar district, and a notorious nightclub largely populated by Mongolian prostitutes was also shut down.

Security officials are targeting Sanlitun, which Olympic organisers expect to be a key destination for foreign tourists looking for a party during the Games.

The pledges that Sanlitun bar owners had been instructed to sign agreed to stop a variety of activities in their establishments, including dancing and serving customers with black skin, they said.

They have been allowed to keep copies of all the pledges except those relating to blacks, implying that the authorities are wary of charges of racism.

"I am appalled," said a black British national who works in Beijing. "I understand that the government is trying to stop certain illegal activities, but I don't think blanket discrimination is going about it the right way.

"Chinese people are prejudiced, but I would have hoped that the government would set a better example as it debuts on the world stage."

Calls to Dongcheng district and Chaoyang district public security bureaus, which oversee the bar districts, went unanswered.

The authorities' attempt to keep unwanted behaviour from damaging the squeaky-clean image of the Games is the latest example of heavy-handedness that critics say is killing the party spirit of the Olympics.

During the Athens Olympics four years ago, bars and nightclubs were allowed to stay open all night. But venues in Beijing that are not being shut down during the Games will have to close at 2am and maintain tight security.

"The officials told me to inform my customers that they must at all times carry their passports or ID cards," said one bar owner.

"Security is important, but Beijing is becoming a fortress, and that's not attractive."

Rumours that all bars within 2km of an Olympic venue will need to close remain unconfirmed, with many managers complaining that they still have not been told whether they will be allowed to open or not. Several bars have been raided in the past few weeks as local police step up a campaign of low-level intimidation, according to several witness accounts.

Bar and restaurant managers in Sanlitun have been instructed to remove tables from footpaths in a crude attempt to prevent fighting in the streets.

"The local police told us to get rid of the tables because they're scared that if too many foreigners congregate outside there could be trouble," said Song Xun , who runs a burrito joint in the area.

Local musicians say that a clampdown on live music risks stifling Beijing's thriving cultural scene and giving Olympic tourists the false impression that the city is artistically anaemic.

Several popular live music venues have been shut or instructed to stop all outdoor shows, and club owners complain they have got used to strange new guests nursing a beer for hours and suspiciously observing everything around them.

"The whole music scene is angry and bewildered. It is impossible to understand how keeping tourists from seeing an open, culturally vibrant and diverse Beijing is possibly a good thing for anyone," said one well-known figure in the local music industry.

David Mitchell, a Beijing-based jazz musician, said it had become increasingly difficult for his band to find anywhere to play.

"It appears the local government is trying to control every aspect of the experience that foreigners get when they come here," he said.

"Everything is aimed at creating stability, but they don't understand that is precisely the unfounded prejudice that foreigners have of Chinese society - that it is a highly controlled and not a very cultural place. It seems completely self-defeating."


Additional reporting by Peter Simpson

1 comment:

Trish Daniel said...

ONE WORLD ONE DREAM.....

ooooooooo