I arrived in Beijing less than an hour ago. The airport was surprisingly quiet. The plane landed right next to immigration, eliminating the normal LONG walk from the gate. All desks had officers to review passports. The train to the main terminal was lightly crowded – versus the normal jam-packed sardine can. There wasn’t a queue at the taxi rank, despite arriving at 11:00 am (the first Hong Kong services arrive then). The cab was clean and didn’t smell of smoke.
What’s going on here?
The drive to the hotel was effortless. No traffic, no swerving lane to lane looking for an opening, no frights if you looked out the windscreen. The hotel itself is quiet. Tomorrow it goes into a total security lockdown as some country occupies it for the next week.
It’s Beijing during APEC.
This Sunday world leaders arrive for the conclusion to many, many days of meetings. A purpose-built convention centre outside the city has its own five-star hotel. And that hotel’s chefs were replaced with the State’s specialist cooks, able to create dishes with the “wow” factor.
But what has everyone here talking about is the colour. “APEC Blue.” It’s a dark robin’s egg colour – more like a clean sea cove or deep aquamarine gem. It’s not seen often in Beijing. It’s the sky.
Making APEC blue is a big endeavour. It requires shutting down factories, ordering cars off the roads, closing businesses and making electricity stations stop production. The goal (which has been clearly achieved) was to provide clean, blue skies to the dozens of world leaders visiting Beijing. This has been touted as the second most important event in China after APEC.
And while world leaders may like APEC blue, as a frequent visitor it’s a great gift for me, too. And for the millions who call Beijing home!