Authorities in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen have ordered small guesthouses to stop taking in guests in a city-wide security operation ahead of a new Silk Road summit in September, local residents told RFA on Tuesday.
Police in Xiamen, which will hold the ninth summit of large developing BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- from Sept. 3-5, have ordered business owners to put such businesses on hold until well after the meeting, a guesthouse employee said.
"You can't [book a room here]," the employee said. "I don't know the exact details, but you probably can't until October; no privately run guesthouses are being allowed to operate now."
"They sent us a directive ordering us to close."
A Xiamen resident surnamed Zhang said traffic controls are also being implemented across the city ahead of the summit.
"Everywhere you go, it's all messed up," he said. "The traffic wasn't too bad before, but now they have put in diversions everywhere, as well as blocked off some streets entirely."
"The entire population is being put out by this, and yet the whole thing, this new Silk Road, is all about the government and its pursuit of profit," Zhang said. "It has nothing to do with ordinary people. What benefit will we get out of it?"
Massive public works
A business owner surnamed Yang said her business has been hard hit by massive public works aimed at sprucing up the city for the summit.
"It is having a huge impact," she said. "They haven't bothered with it for so long, and now my customers are being inconvenienced."
"The government hasn't compensated business owners for any of this."
And a resident surnamed Wang said there is a strong police presence on the city's streets.
"It seems as if there are security personnel in the [inner] lane who are subjecting passing cars to stringent security checks, so there are fewer cars about on the streets," Wang said.
Xiamen-based rights activist Pan Xidian said local police had issued him with a verbal warning not to "give shelter" to any activists from out of town.
"There are very tight security requirements as the ... BRICS summit approaches," Pan said. "I heard that they are checking all vehicles from out of town, pulling them into checkpoints, stopping and searching them."
"All roads in and out [of the city] are being checked, as well as the tunnel [to Gulangyu Island]."
Complaints from Xiamen residents were also visible online, in spite of government censorship targeting any comments critical of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
Dogs under threat?
One online comment said courier services have also been suspended within the city, out of security concerns.
"The police came to our door and told us to shut down all operations for one month," the commentator said. "This is a total slap in the face."
Residents in housing compounds are also being ordered to get rid of their dogs, the comment said.
"If they don't do it, then the authorities will come and do it for them, so don't tell me this BRICS summit doesn't affect local people," the comment said.
Another online comment hit out at a requirement that the entire population living within two kilometers of the summit venue is being forced to vacate their homes.
"The guesthouses have been shut down, and the hotels have ratcheted up their prices, and anyone staying in a room has to go through ID checks," the second comment said.
Other comments said the roadblocks had made it impossible to order a takeout.
"Didn't they promise that BRICS wouldn't be a burden on ordinary people?" a third comment complained. "They are fixing the roads right through the night, and the noise is so loud. How do they expect people to get any rest?"
Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hei Na for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.