On Saturday I took a stroll around Tiananmen Square. It has a fairly interesting history, particularly as regards China’s political development in the 20th Century. It was the scene of the birth of the May Fourth Movement in 1919, which kind of got the whole ball rolling as far as Chinese Communism goes. Then, on October 1, 1949, Mao proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China from the top of Tiananmen Tower (which is now adorned with his portrait). Tiananmen Square was also the site of the 1989 student demonstrations. As a result of this, the place was crawling with members of the local police force, SWAT team, and the PLA (People’s Liberation Army). To visit the top of Tiananmen Tower, you had to undergo a fairly invasive pat-down that would make the TSA proud.
However, it was a fairly interesting place to wander around. I hit the Tower, walked around the Monument to the People’s Heroes (though, they didn’t let you get much closer than about 100 yards away from it), Zheng Yang Gate at the opposite end of the square, and wandered around the outside of the Great Hall of the People (where China’s “Congress” meets). They actually have Mao’s body preserved inside the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, but apparently visiting is only allowed in the morning. So, I missed that. I also wanted to wander around the inside of the Great Hall of the People, but the building was closed for some sort of official function. But I may try to make a second pass at these places.
I also walked around Zhong Shan Park, which is right next to Tiananmen Square and also contains a memorial to Sun Yat-Sen, who occupies the strange position of being the hero for both the Communists on mainland China and the Nationalists on Taiwan. It was also just a nice place to wander around.
I also made my way out to the Forbidden City on Sunday and will have those pictures up shortly.