Opium, umbrellas and fruit were all banned for reporters covering Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to a military parade in Hong Kong on Friday, on a peculiarly exhaustive list of items considered too dangerous to bring along.
Xi was visiting a People’s Liberation Army airfield in northern Hong Kong, one of the most highly anticipated events during his landmark three-day visit to mark 20 years since the city was handed back to China by Britain.
Ahead of the parade, journalists were sent written instructions spelling out security measures which included 14 categories of prohibited accessories.
Some were to be expected: weapons, lighters, blades.
Others less so.
Cyanide, opium, morphine and heroin, were specifically off limits under the categories “toxic substances” and “addictive narcotics”. Animals, plants, drinks, food and fruit were also out.
Those who wanted to look their best for Xi may have had trouble as cosmetics and deodorant were banned because they contained liquid.
Troublingly for reporters, whose stock-in-trade is writing things down, pens were also verboten.
Umbrellas were given their own separate category on the blacklist — they became symbolic of the city’s pro-democracy movement, dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution”, in 2014.
Reporters were supplied with approved pens and umbrellas were issued in PLA goodie bags, used by many of those watching to shade them from the blazing sun.
The military said in a statement that the items had been banned to “ensure security”.