Today begins the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China here in Beijing. I flew in this morning and was already warned of arcane restrictions. You’re not allowed to buy remote-control airplanes. (They may be flown over restricted areas with cameras.) You can’t get out of taxis in prohibited areas. You weren’t allowed to roll down taxi windows.
And then there is a ban on ping-pong balls.
Seems clever protesters might paint disparaging messages and throw them into crowds. (In Chicago during Obama’s acceptance speech any ping-pong balls with New York team logos are likely to be banned, too.
So imagine my surprise this morning on the taxi ride from Beijing Airport into the city centre. I was able to download the latest election results on The New York Times app. I then watched live Bloomberg TV just as they called the presidency for Obama. All the while in the back of my taxi (window firmly closed).
The information generation makes life immeasurably easy. There is no disconnection unless mid-flight. And landing after an agonising three hours waiting to see who won the USA presidency was bad enough. Then being able to watch live coverage on an international television network was heaven.
Even if I had to keep my taxi window shut.