Increased security checks have caused long lines at Beijing subway stations, as the Chinese capital steps up controls ahead of the 19th National Congress.

The party meeting, which kicks off on Wednesday morning, is China’s most important political meeting, held once every five years.

Photos and footage circulating online showed crowds of people lining up to enter a subway station.

Ming Pao reported that passengers will be required to walk through x-ray scanners as well as subject themselves to full body inspections starting Tuesday.

On Monday, there were long queues outside some stations, increasing commutes by over half an hour. The paper quoted one person as saying online: “Already lined up for 40 minutes, can’t even see the entrance yet, looks like it’ll be another 20 minutes.”

Longze station in the Changping district saw huge crowds lining up outside, with travellers spilling off the sidewalks and onto a pedestrian bridge nearby, according to the footage.

Photo: Screenshots.

“At the subway station, security checks are particularly strict, and [they] check more carefully. The number of security personnel has also increased,” one Beijing resident told RTHK.

The Hong Kong broadcaster reported that there was an increase in the number of volunteer security patrols around the city. Traffic police had been stationed at every intersection on Chang’an Avenue, where the meetings will take place at the Great Hall of the People.

Hotels along the wide thoroughfare also posted notices telling guests that the city had banned opening windows that look out onto the avenue until October 31, according to the broadcaster.

Businesses from kitchenware stores to karaoke bars were temporarily shut down ahead of the meeting. The city has also banned the sale of hazardous chemicals and fireworks, according to local media.

Prominent activists and dissidents including outspoken journalist Gao Yu, Bao Tong, the former aide to ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, and activist Zha Jianguo are under tight surveillance, with some of them taken outside the city, according to US-backed Radio Free Asia.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.