Wed Oct 16,10:35 AM ET
BEIJING (Reuters) - As China's ruling Communists try to ensure a critical party congress comes off without a hitch next month, a 1,000-strong army is patrolling Beijing's Tiananmen Square, removing a troublesome scourge -- chewing gum. Ranks of cleaners have toiled in the vast square for 18 days to scrape off an estimated 600,000 wads of chewing gum, the official Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.
Each wad of gum cost 13 cents to remove, Xinhua said, citing a cleaning company working for the Management Committee of Tiananmen Square. The cleanup comes as the government spruces up the city ahead of the 16th Communist Party Congress that starts in the Great Hall of the People on one side of the square on November 8 and is expected to see a younger generation take the reins of power. Lying at the heart of the Chinese capital, Tiananmen Square was the focal point of huge pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989 crushed by the army with heavy loss of life.
Hey! 599,000 of those weren't mine!