Central Beijing shut off for National Day rehearsals
Beijing: Authorities shut down much of central Beijing on Saturday as China staged huge rehearsals for a parade and other festivities marking the 60th anniversary of the nation's October 1 founding.
Tiananmen Square and adjacent roads at the heart of the capital were closed to the public from Friday night to early Sunday morning for the rehearsals which state press said involved 200,000 people and 60 parade floats.
China is planning a parade, song and dance performances, and fireworks on October 1 to mark the day when revolutionary leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of Communist China in 1949 at Tiananmen Square.
Authorities were keen to maintain the secrecy and security of the rehearsals and security checkpoints manned by officers with police dogs were seen at several points, with police diverting traffic and checking vehicles.
The subway system's main lines through the city centre were to be intermittently closed to the public as they transported performers, the China Daily said.
In recent weeks, China has deployed thousands of extra police in the capital to monitor people and vehicles entering and leaving the capital.
They would guard key infrastructure points such as bridges, railways, and the subway system to prevent any disruption on the sensitive anniversary, state press has said.
State media reports have said the security measures have been toughened in part due to last month's riots in China's far western Xinjiang region by Muslim Uighurs, which the government said left nearly 200 people dead.
China typically cracks down on politically sensitive anniversaries to prevent any action by groups critical of the Communist Party's iron-fisted rule such as dissident groups and restive minorities including Uighurs and Tibetans unhappy with Chinese control of their homelands.
Beijing police have also recruited hundreds of thousands of volunteers to keep an eye on suspicious activity in the city in the lead-up to National Day, state media have said.