A China Daily article titled “Beijing police nab 8 foreigners suspected of drug trafficking” states that more than 20 people were nabbed in a Sanlitun raid last night:
Police in Beijing apprehended more than 20 people, including eight foreigners, in suspicion of using and trafficking drugs in two downtown bars, said Beijing’s pubic [sic] security authority early on Saturday.
Police in Chaoyang district were tipped off that some drug traffickers and users gathered in pubs in Sanlitun, a bar area popular among both Chinese and foreigners, said the press office of Beijing Public Security Bureau.
I end up in Sanlitun almost every Friday night for the Sequoia Cafe wine tasting, but this is the first time I’ve witnessed such a police presence.
The street facing Tongli Studio was blocked by tape and police, from near Poachers to Aperitivo. I saw several dozen police officers, both uniformed and plain-clothes, and a group of eight to ten people with “SWAT” printed on the back of their uniforms. Hundreds of patrons, employees, and residents watched from the doorways of bars and restaurants, the rooftop of Tongli Studio, and apartments.
Police brought people out of the northernmost Pure Girl establishment and put them into a paddy wagon. At one point, two of these people, handcuffed together, were posed in the middle of the street for what I assume were press and police photographers and videographers.
The police went into A Little High and brought someone out. Patrons outside were told they could go in, which most of them did, at which point the photographers took pictures of them sitting in the bar.
Eight or so photographers then rushed down the alley that intersects the street, followed by two officers with German Shepherds and some plain-clothes police.
I watched the raid for about 30 minutes and, at least while I was there, it seemed fairly orderly and calm.
I then headed to Revelations (a jazz band now plays there on weekends) and The Saddle Cantina (to check the inaugural half-price drinks event “Cinco de Drinko” – one person in our party really liked the Mango Mojito). Afterwards, I walked down the Tongli strip and, beside the four Pure Girl establishments being shut, things seemed no different than usual.
My overall impression is that: 1) this raid was much more coordinated that the one last October; 2) given the numerous photographers, it was meant to send a very public message; 3) now is not the time to be acting recklessly in Beijing; and 4) it’s a good idea to have your identification papers with you.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Sanlitun North. On one hand, I have described it numerous times as a “cesspool”, given the dealers, lady bar touts, and fights. On the other hand, I like numerous establishments there – The Tree, Petit Gourmand, Le Bistrot Parisienne, among others. Hopefully, the end result for this area is not one of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”