By Eli Meixler
March 13, 2018

Foreigners in Beijing looking for a late-night meal this week may find themselves in a different pickle.

Popular restaurants and bars in Beijing’s busy Wudaokou district have been instructed by police to limit the number of foreign patrons — at least according to the South China Morning Post, which suggests the ban is part of ramped-up security around the capital for the meeting of China’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress.

Wudaokou is close to Beijing’s Tsinghua and Peking universities, and is known for its large population of international students as well as for its bars and nightlife.

But not this week. Although a local police officer denied the existence of the ban, a pizzeria employee told the Post that the restaurant was not allowed to admit foreigners after 8 p.m. “There are police officers patrolling outside every night,” the employee said. “Plus, there are security cameras everywhere in the restaurant and on the street – the feeds are all connected to police stations.”

Notices posted at multiple venues warned that a maximum of just 10 foreigners could be admitted at any one time. “We appreciate your understanding during these challenging times,” one notice said.

Security is normally heightened in Beijing during official visits and political events, and China’s ruling National People’s Congress convenes this week to pass a slew of constitutional amendments, including the rollback of term limits that may see President Xi Jinping rule for life. But some found the intensified measures gratuitous, while a foreign student called the measures “discriminatory.”

“It’s not that we’re going to be the ones that are starting a revolution to get rid of the [Communist] party,” he told the Post.

Certainly not on an empty stomach, they aren’t.

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