Friday, September 7, 2012

Beijing Marathon 2012 News

I posted yesterday about my massive sadness about losing out on my fall marathon plans -- and converting my trip to China to run the Beijing Marathon into a trip to China to soak up the sights and sounds (which really, the last two weeks of the trip were going to be that anyway).  But I was kind of in a very sad haze about the whole thing. 

Finally sucked it up today and retrieved the full news article on why I will not be running a marathon in 5.5 weeks.  In trying to find the bright side, it sounds like Beijing will be in top shape when we are there and it will be a very exciting time.  And it does make me glad that we prepaid our hotel reservations for Beijing for those dates! 

I'm not letting the rumored changes create in me any underlying fear of a coup or revolt or something while we are there.  That would just be silly, of course.  After all, they are going to be keeping riff-raff at bay.  Though it is kind of a bummer that the markets and open-air restaurants are closing.  But it's certainly best that those "petitioners" are forced out of the city now. 

Every time I read about "the capital" in this article, I think about The Hunger Games.  I'm guessing the authors of this article haven't read the books. 

Anyway, just reading the article reinforces to me that China is a very different place from the US.  I'm so excited about going still -- and I'm going to come to terms with the fact that I'm not running there eventually...

Here is the original Financial Times article that was the basis for the Runner's World post: 

September 5, 2012 12:10 pm

Beijing’s marathon guessing game nears end

By Simon Rabinovitch and Kathrin Hille in Beijing

Beijing marathon organisers, hotel receptionists and even florists all know something that the Chinese communist party has so far refused to make public: its most important political meeting in a decade will be held in the middle of October.

The party has yet to announce the date of the big occasion, when a new generation of leaders will be unveiled. But for all their efforts to maintain a cloak of secrecy over the event, officials are struggling to keep the timing under wraps.

The Beijing marathon organising committee had applied to hold the annual race on October 14 but this date was rejected, according to a representative. “We are now hoping to get approval for sometime after October 20, when the Party congress is over,” he said.

In another hint that party officials from all over China will gather next month, five-star hotels near the congress venue in central Beijing reported that they were mostly booked up for the middle of October. A receptionist at Capital Hotel, long favoured by provincial officials, said it had only a few rooms available from October 10-25.

Confirming Beijing’s worst-kept secret, government advisers say they have been told to expect the party’s 18th National Congress in mid-October.

In contrast to other countries such as the US, where political conventions are transparent affairs announced months if not years in advance, China’s ruling party and government rarely say in advance when they will hold meetings. The schedule of the annual parliament is published just days before it convenes for a brief session – usually held in March – and even Chinese leaders’ attendance at international summits is often confirmed at the last minute.

As a result there is much intrigue surrounding the leadership that will emerge at the party congress, although the two most important personnel changes are clear. Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are expected to succeed, respectively, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao as president and premier .

Municipal planners in Beijing are also taking steps to ensure that riffraff are kept at bay during the week-long congress.

Over the past two weeks, law enforcement squads have told restaurants they must suspend open-air service and closed down some wet markets. A market in Shilipu, in Eastern Beijing, was shut to stop farmers from coming into urban areas on their donkey carts, residents said.

Last month Beijing police began rounding up petitioners, who take their grievances to higher levels of government, and evicted them from the capital. Hotels around Beijing South railway station were warned they would be fined if they admit petitioners over the coming two months.

The party congress will be a boon to some businesses, however. One city district announced it would spend Rmb50m on flowers for the National Day holiday on October 1 and the party congress.

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