May 5, 2010

Since the May Day holiday, there have been armed cops nearly everywhere.

Almost every farmer with a low level job here looks like military: the parking lot attendant where I work is kitted out in fatigues and what seems to be an Italian military beret. When I first came to China, I thought they had a soldier every five feet you went, but it turns out that the police and soldier presence is actually much lower than you'd think, and that flunkies minding car parks and hotel gates are dressed up overly soldierly, so you'd show them some respect when they start barking orders at you.

So when holidays roll around (like May Day), Beijing puts the full force of the police department on show. Two cops at every subway stop or busy bus stop. They're all wearing the black SWAT looking uniforms and toting rifles. You know they're cops by the writing on their bullet proof vests. There's no mistaking them for parking lot attendants.

I'm not sure how this reads to the Chinese, but the need for a show of strength and control reads just the opposite to me.


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