Hangzhou, a city of 6 million Chinese residents, was turned into a virtual ghost town to ensure the G20 summit went perfectly without a hitch. The city was the chosen site of the eleventh meeting of the Group of Twenty (G20) held on September 4–5 , the first one to be hosted in China.
With more than a third of the city’s population “convinced” to leave town and a seven-day public holiday declared, the massive exodus of the population cleared the roads and left public areas emptied for the international summit.
Weeks before the scheduled event, factories (including more than two hundred steel mills) and building sites were ordered to shut down to reportedly curb air pollution, causing migrant workers to temporarily leave the city, The Guardian reported.
Armed special forces were placed on guard along the city entrances with Swat teams covering every intersection across town.
As an added security measure for the attending leaders, towering apartment blocks surrounding the site for the conference were vacated as ordered by the government. Government dissidents were either forced to leave the city or placed under house arrest for the duration of the summit.
Communist party security agents were in tow as foreign journalists strolled through empty streets looking for residents to interview.
Miles away, around 760,000 senior citizens who signed up to be “public security volunteers” were deployed all throughout Beijing, roaming the streets and monitoring every corner.
The tactic, which was seen as a way to further establish China’s reputation as a great world power, seemed to have worked as the summit went quite smoothly.
“You have recorded the exciting moments of China’s G20 presidency,” Chinese president Xi Jinping said, addressing local and foreign reporters after the event has wrapped up. “You have conveyed to the world the success of the summit … [and] it is your hard work that has helped to seal China’s mark on the G20.”