Where is Xi Jinping? Officials keep a tight lid on Guangdong tour
- With little official information to go on, it’s anyone’s guess where the president will appear next
- Traffic control arrangements began in the Qianhai area of Shenzhen on Tuesday afternoon
Officials have kept a tight lid on the itinerary for Xi Jinping’s highly anticipated Guangdong trip, with locals hunting for clues in traffic control and security moves and social media abuzz with talk about where the president could appear next.
Xi was seen briefly on television at the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge on Tuesday morning. State broadcaster CCTV then aired footage of Xi inspecting the bridge and calling it a “world record-setting and remarkable” project linking Hong Kong, the mainland and Macau.
But after that, no official information was released until late on Tuesday evening, when state news agency Xinhua reported that Xi had stopped in Qingyuan, in the north of the province, to inspect poverty alleviation work.
Xi’s visit is reminiscent of former leader Deng Xiaoping’s famous Southern Tour in early 1992. The South China Morning Post has learned that a visit to Qianhai in Shenzhen could be on the cards, to show the president’s support for further economic liberalisation.
The city is the birthplace of the country’s market-oriented reforms and the Qianhai area has been earmarked for developing closer ties between the mainland, Hong Kong and innovation in the service industry.
Traffic control arrangements began in the area on Tuesday afternoon and will be in place until Wednesday evening.
But it has been quiet in most big cities in the Pearl River Delta region after a busy weekend of preparation and stepped-up security controls.
It was business as usual for most of Shenzhen on Tuesday, but locals said some main roads were temporarily blocked on Monday morning from Baoan to Luohu. Rumours that Xi would visit have been circulating in the city for days.
“They said on the weekend the roads would be blocked wherever he went – I was held up for 15 minutes [on Sunday] near Yueliangwan but no one really knows if he was ever here,” one taxi driver said.
In Guangzhou, it was all hands on deck to spruce up the city with workers out in force trimming bushes and sweeping the streets for the past few days amid rumors that the provincial capital could be on Xi’s tour. Security was also stepped up, with traffic police seen on main roads and near a major military compound from about lunchtime on Monday.
By Tuesday, traffic controls had been eased, but security was tight in Jiaomen, in Nansha district – another possible stop on the tour.
Students at the city’s Jinan University were convinced the president was going to drop in after campus security was tightened, with vehicles banned from entering. The university was the first to cater to overseas Chinese after the country had opened up to the West. It was one of three locations rumoured to be on Xi’s itinerary for Guangzhou.
But many students were happy just to have some days off.
“We were given two days off – I’m already back home in Zhongshan … We heard some important leaders might visit our campus,” said a Jinan University student who did not want to be named.
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Xi’s itinerary also could take him to Sun Yat-sen University, where manuscripts written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – including a first edition copy of the The Communist Manifesto published in 1848 – are displayed in the library.
Many students, however, said they did not see what the fuss was about. One, however, said he hoped the president would do something to improve doctors’ pay and allowances for medical students.
Additional reporting by Phoebe Zhang, He Huifeng and Guo Rui