China is in the middle of a once-in-a-decade political transition. The country's new leaders will be elected during the 18th Party Congress, and this week President Hu Jintao will begin to relinquish power to his heir, Vice President Xi Jinping.
The week long meeting has drawn more than 2,000 Communist Party delegates to Beijing from across the vast country, and ensuring social stability is a top priority for officials. Beijing has taken a series of unusual measures to prevent protests. The list of restrictions effects all aspects of life in China's capital, which has a population of about 20 million.
At left, workers check security cameras on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Nov. 12, 2012.
The interior of a taxi cab in Beijing with the window crank removed. The window handles have been taken off to prevent passengers from throwing political messages out the windows.
Rewards have been offered to taxi drivers for turning in people who attempt to distribute political information. Drivers have also been urged to check their back seats for any political messages left behind by passengers.
No air mail
A shopkeeper in Beijing holds a toy helicopter.
Beijing residents have been banned from flying model or remote-control aircraft for fear the toy planes could be used to spread political slogans.
The Beijing Carrier Pigeon Association, meanwhile, says it postponed two annual races which were to take place during the Congress over fears from officials that the birds might also have been used to carry political messages.
No air mail
A shopkeeper shows a package full of balloons at a shop in Beijing.
Some stores have stopped selling balloons - another potential vehicle for spreading protest messages during the Congress.
Ping-Pong balls also made the list of suspicious airborne items that could carry messages of dissent.
China has seen a number of knife attacks in recent years, and violent crime is a big fear of officials in charge of the Congress.
A shopper gazes at the shelves at a Beijing supermarket where all of the kitchen knives were been removed.
Store managers said they would have knives for sale again in December - well after the Congress wraps up and the transition is complete.
Dissidents to ground
Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei waves to journalists before entering the Beijing No. 2 People's Intermediate Court for an appeal in Beijing, Sept. 27, 2012.
Hundreds of activists and dissidents are under house arrest for the duration of the Congress. Ai, who is normally happy to speak to media, was reluctant to speak to CBS News in the run-up to the Congress.
Credit: CBS News
Dissidents to ground
The front gate of Ai Wei Wei's compound is seen in Beijing.
Normally outspoken critics of the government like Ai are refusing to comment on the Party Congress, citing fears that doing so could risk their security.
Some dissidents have been assigned police minders to keep tabs on them for the duration of the Congress.
Censors in overdrive
The headquarters of China's state-controlled CCTV network is seen in Beijing.
All Chinese broadcasters have stepped-up their already-strict censorship for the Congress, with songs containing "unlucky" words like si (die) and xia (down) reportedly being banned from TV stations across the country.
International news channels like CNN and the BBC have disappeared from television sets in some local health clubs.
Chinese security officers patrol a park next to the Great Hall of the People, the site of the Communist Party Congress in Beijing, Nov. 12, 2012.
A man working as a security volunteer in Tiananmen Square stands next to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
The Chinese Communist Party's paranoia is on full display for its Congress in Beijing in a security squeeze extending from police swarming Tiananmen Square to elderly sentinels watching street corners.
The capital has 1.4 million 'public order volunteers' -- retirees, city street cleaners, firemen and low-paid security guards -- on the lookout for anything that could upset the sensitive gathering, even in the quietest residential neighborhoods.