Local authorities in Kunming, Yunnan Province, have regulated printing, photocopying and T-shirt sales businesses in a bid to prevent further protests against a paraxylene (PX) project that has ignited two massive demonstrations.
Local residents in Kunming and neighboring Anning, where the project will be located, confirmed to the Global Times on Monday that they have to bring ID cards and register their real names when purchasing white T-shirts and printing or photocopying banners related to the PX project.
Yuan Xuefei, a manager at a local printing and advertising company that has 11 chain stores, said since May 21 they have been filling in forms with customers' details and regularly submitting it to police officers.
The edict was announced by the local industrial and commercial bureau and police department, he said.
"They do not want anyone to protest," a man surnamed Zhang from a local clothing factory told the Global Times, referring to previous protests where demonstrators wore white T-shirts and masks and held banners with slogans rejecting the PX project.
However, other small printing shops are not required to submit personal information. "If the customer does not ask for sensitive words like 'health' or 'PX,' we will not ask for their information," said an owner named Ou Siwen.
Although authorities in Anning said they had abolished the controversial real-name policy on surgical mask purchases, staff at two local pharmacies told the Global Times that customers who buy more than 10 masks are required to leave their ID information.
A Kunming government official surnamed Li told the Global Times that all those rules serve to maintain stability ahead of the China-South Asia Exposition from June 6 to 10.
"A new round of protests, with more participants than the previous ones, will take place the day the expo opens," an anonymous source, who participated in the first protest on May 4, told the Global Times.
During the first protest, over 3,000 residents rallied against the project and the pollution it would bring.
The source also said the gathering will be at the Kunming International Convention and Exhibition Center, the host site of the expo's opening ceremony. Li said the government has also ordered all its employees to stay in their positions until the expo ends.
Some 200 owners of photocopying, printing and T-shirt sales businesses in Anning have signed an agreement guaranteeing that they would not trust, spread or help spread rumors related to the PX project in an effort to ensure the city's stability, the Guangzhou-based Nandu Daily reported Monday.
"The expo matters a lot to the city and we should not humiliate the city in front of foreigners," Ou said, adding that he did not sign any agreement with the government, but did receive the official notice.
But Zhang thinks the government is silencing residents and has triggered further fear over the project.