I never should have brought so much lipstick to the G-20.
I was assigned to cover the international summit in China, as well as the business-focused "B-20" taking place over the next few days in Hangzhou. This is the first time China is hosting the G-20, so the authorities are taking the event very seriously. The city has been in virtual lock down to ensure the country puts on a good show for world leaders—including U.S. President Barack Obama.
Yet perhaps China is taking things a bit too seriously.
I got to the security checkpoint outside the hotel where Obama is staying, and Chinese officers waved me to a body scanner while two beefy American agents stood behind. After going through the usual checks, I pulled my handbag off a conveyor—only to be told by the Chinese officers to take out my make-up kit, which contained five different lipsticks (Normally I don't carry so many, but in a rush that morning, threw in everything I had. I began to regret my decision.)
The officer uncapped each tube, twisted it to expose the color, and then carefully set the lipsticks aside. The officer proceeded to open my mascara, eye pencil, eye shadow and eye liner—all while announcing what the items were to another guard blocked from my view. Unsure of what the officers were looking for, I offered my phone battery and my iPad but was told to put them away. Instead, one pulled out my black patent Prada heels and studied them closely. I was starting to feel very self-conscious.
The American security agents appeared to find the display very amusing. I heard one exclaim: "Those are nice shoes!" When I looked up and expressed regret about bringing so many lipsticks, one quipped: "Well, you never know what color you might need."
When I asked if the Chinese security officers were this strict with everyone, they nodded and one lamented, "They do that to us, too."