No Cheering Public For China's Leadership Change

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Crowds filled New York's Time Square as the American public voted for their next president. Half a world away in China, a leadership change is also about to take place, but the streets of Beijing will not be filling up with cheering crowds.

Instead, police and other security personnel are on high alert. They've been instructed to make sure the 18th Party Congress, which starts on Thursday, happens without a glitch.

In Tiananmen Square police check bags and identity cards before allowing people to pass.

Activists and rights groups say security is tight behind the scenes as well.

Speaking from Lhasa a prominent Tibetan blogger, writer and activist spoke to reporters via Skype.

[Woeser, Tibetan Poet, Activist and Blogger]:
"From my personal experience, it has never been this bad before. Not only did they make me leave Beijing, not allow me to stay in Beijing, but once I arrived back in my hometown, all my family and friends have been cautioned. This has never happened before."

Rights group Amnesty international says at least 130 people have been detained or placed under restriction since September.

Many petitioners who flock to the capital seeking redress for abuses in their home provinces found themselves overrun by plain-clothed security men. They were being forced out of Beijing from as early as September.

[Luo Yingshu, Petitioner from Chongqing City]:
"Why are they capturing petitioners for the 18th Party Congress? Because petitioners want to complain to the authorities, and demand the 18th Party Congress to explain why have the police, prosecutors and courts become reactionary organizations. They are brutal, they hurt the people."

Taxi drivers have been asked to lock rear windows and avoid taking passengers past Tiananmen Square. Buses must lock windows to prevent the "throwing of leaflets and other issues."

Flying remote control model aircraft is banned, and some shopkeepers have been forced to board up electronic signs.

Residents have also complained of snail-paced Internet speeds. Software designed to overcome China's internet firewall have also reportedly stopped working.

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