The Power Shift

No fresh air for Beijing taxis during party congress

Strict new rules require taxis in the capital to keep their windows and doors closed during the 18th party congress

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2012, 12:41pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 November, 2012, 5:54pm

I always loathe it when my chatty Beijing taxi driver won’t stop talking about the secret power games in the capital or how young transplants from other parts of China have driven Beijing’s “own” kids out of jobs. But now, if the cabbies can’t keep their mouths shut, at least they will have to keep their cabs shut.

Beijing authorities say taxi drivers will have to keep their windows and doors strictly shut during the period of the 18th party congress.

By “strictly shut”, I mean authorities have ordered drivers to remove all of the window cranks by the passengers’ seats in their vehicles. This rules out the possibility that someone might roll down the window to throw out “embarrassing” flyers or Ping Pong balls painted with slogans.

Photos posted on China’s Twitter-like service, Sina Weibo, show taxi windows with cranks already removed.

“What happens when the driver farts in the car and I am no longer allowed to open the window?” one Weibo user joked about the new rule, drawing hundreds of comments and reposts.

According to what appears to be a leaked document posted online, taxis are also asked to avoid travelling near the Tiananmen Square area, where the 18th party congress will be held. They are recommended, instead, to use detours.

Taxi drivers in Beijing are known for their poor service and tendency to turn down customers.

It looks like for the first time in a long time, they are winning sympathy from their critics.