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November 1, 2012

China bans toy planes, pigeons to secure congress

(Continued)

BEIJING —

Taxi drivers have been told to remove window handles, to avoid sensitive parts of the city and not to open their windows or doors if they pass "important venues." Some taxi drivers, but not all, have been told to ask passengers to sign a "traveling agreement" if they want to go near Tiananmen Square.

A man who answered the phone at Wan Quan Si taxi company in the south of the capital said the rule applies to all taxi companies in Beijing. He declined to give his name.

Beijing investment company worker Li Tianshu said she didn't believe colleagues' claims that door handles had been removed until she got into a taxi herself the other day.

"There were no handles for three of the four windows," she said. "The driver told me that their company asked them to do it to prevent passengers spreading leaflets. The driver complained that if they don't take the handles away or the passengers throw leaflets out of the taxis, they will be fired."

Citizens have taken to Weibo to post photos of doors with handles crudely ripped off. Liu Shi, a client manager in a mass communication company, wrote that the taxi driver had told him that power to electronic window buttons would also be cut.

A memo circulating on Weibo warned taxi drivers to be on guard against passengers who may want to cast balloons with slogans or throw "pingpong balls with reactionary words." It was unclear who issued the memo and its authenticity could not be confirmed.

A man who wouldn't give his name at Tong Hai taxi company in central Beijing said it had received orders "from higher authorities" to reinforce security measures and a memo, but he wouldn't elaborate.

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