ON RED ALERT

New Straits Times - - World - AP PIC

Sol­diers in usher uni­forms sit­ting near their fire ex­tin­guish­ers placed next to so­fas dur­ing the Na­tional Peo­ple's Congress at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple in Bei­jing re­cently. Be­cause safety comes first, fire ex­tin­guish­ers are ubiq­ui­tous in and around the premises dur­ing the an­nual ses­sions of China’s Par­lia­ment and its of­fi­cial ad­vi­sory body. That’s partly for pre­vent­ing fire emer­gen­cies, but it also speaks of the fear of self-im­mo­la­tion as a form of dis­sent, act­ing as a safe­guard against rogue el­e­ments who might in­fil­trate the gath­er­ing to stage a grisly protest.

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