A raid at the popular bar Heaven Supermarket in Sanlitun last night (May 10), and information passed on from well-placed sources, indicates that this weekend could see yet more visits from the police to popular F&B venues across Beijing.
Our source – with connections to several popular F&B brands with outlets around the city – said they have been forewarned by local police that increased citywide inspections are to be expected ahead of the May 14-15 One Belt, One Road summit.
According to the source (who only spoke on condition of anonymity), the officials said the inspections would happen across town, and that they even went as far as to suggest that he close his venues for the weekend until things quiet down. “If we stay open, there will be police checks,” he was told.
Popular nightclub Vics has already postponed their slate of weekend activities in anticipation of the summit.
Last night’s raid on Heaven Supermarket in Sanlitun was just one of a number of unannounced visits by police over the past month apparently targeting hangouts popular with foreigners.
Police entered the bar and asked for ID from patrons but no on the spot urine tests, as has been seen elsewhere. Manager Boren Zhang said he saw two foreign customers escorted out (though one returned a few hours later and bought more drinks).
One passerby, who also agreed to speak to us on the condition of anonymity, was stopped by police as she and her boyfriend biked pass the scene at Heaven. She said that approximately 20 officers surrounded her and asked to see ID, which she did not have on her at the time, before three other foreigners (her boyfriend and the two Heaven patrons that had been escorted outside) were then taken to the police station.
At the local police station, she and the three accompanying foreigners joined eight other foreigners that were already waiting. The source was told by police that they were brought in because they did not have their passports. While detained, the officers shouted at them to be quiet if they attempted to talk to each other, put them in separate cells, and ordered the males to do urine tests (the females were not required to take the test).
Afterwards, she and her three fellow detainees were permitted to leave, though they saw more people being brought in on their way out.
The source said she found it odd that all the detainees she saw except one were black. She also believed that having such a high number of apprehending officers for four people was “overkill” and that it came as a shock to her. “It’s a big issue … I’ll never go out without my passport again.”
The increased number of raids are likely to be a concerted push by authorities to quash any unseemly behavior prior to this weekend’s big One Belt, One Road summit. If you’re in any doubt and don’t want the hassle, we suggest staying in this weekend.
In order to avoid similarly unfortunate circumstances, foreigners are strongly advised to keep copies of their passports and visas with them, if not the actual papers, at all times (whether out at a venue or walking down the street). After all, it is the law for expats – be they visitors or residents – to always carry proper identification, even though that rule is usually only enforced during sensitive times. And while the Public Security Bureau does at times accept photocopies or photos of such identification, they have the right to inspect the original papers and, as we saw in the above foreigner’s case, those officers aren’t afraid to exercise their authority.
We also suggest that anyone going out this weekend check ahead with your destination to ensure if there has not been a change of plans – and it goes without saying that we strongly recommend everyone steer 100 percent clear of illegal drugs.