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May 6, 2010

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Artists face stringent security

ARTISTS at a downtown Shanghai complex are feeling the pinch of tighter security for the World Expo.

A notice was posted yesterday at the art hub at 696 Weihai Road. It states that living in the complex is forbidden and that no one can enter after 10pm.

"The complex only qualifies to be leased as work space, not as residential space," said police officer Xu Yun.

According to a security guard, surnamed Wang, at the building, the notice was in response to a police spot check on April 28.

The guards expect more spot checks in the coming months as security measures have been tightened across the city for the Shanghai World Expo.

However, the stricter regulations didn't seem to have the desired effect and some expatriates who rent workshops at the complex said they think it's just empty talk. Other expats didn't even know about the notice as it was written only in Chinese.

"So, I'm running the risk of being caught by police only because I can't read the Chinese notice at the entrance door," said Cedric, a Frenchman who sells decorative art and furniture from his shop in the complex.

He said he didn't like the restrictions as it's fairly common for artists to stay up late while working on projects.

Sammie, another artist, said she will not answer the door after 10pm to avoid the police from inquiring about the bed in her workshop.

"We all agreed it would be easier that way, rather than explain to police how we sometimes work late and sleep here," Sammie said.

But like Cedric and others in the complex, Sammie is skeptical about the new regulations.

"I don't think they will be that strict. After all, it's only an art complex," she said. "How can you regulate artists from working too late?"

Security guard Wang suggested renters send an application form to the building's property management officers if they want to stay overnight.

"Otherwise, we have to cut the power after 10pm, which will cause trouble to the renters," Wang said.

The complex has attracted inhabitants from all over the world since 2006, when it was renovated from an abandoned factory.


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