Tiananmen, a name taken from the Gate of Heavenly Peace (at he Forbidden City), is a huge concrete square surrounded by Museums, Mausoleum of Mao Zedong and the iconic Forbidden City. The square had played a significant role for several event in China. However, the most remembered is probably, at least for me, was the 1989 pro-democracy movement and subsequent suppression and massacre by the Communist government. For me, the most vivid memory was the lone man attempting to block a row of tanks form advancing. He was subsequently dragged away by fellow demonstrators.
Today, it was the unusual blue sky with the pollution level reading of 50! It was wonderful to feel the sun on my skin with winter, almost forgotten. Both locals and tourist meandered through the crowds and avoid collision with the uniformed marching soldiers. Parents frantically coxing the young kids to pose with the Forbidden City in the background. Not leaving out the patriotic waving of the Chinese flag. All whom entered into the square are subject to baggage inspection. Safety is paramount, but for whom? I was told by locals that there are many policemen in mufti wandering around, just in case if something undesirable should arise. Close circuit cameras are everywhere. The legacy of Mao Zedong is ever present here, a large portrait, hung on Tiananmen Gate across the street is a prominent sight.
The surrounding buildings, all gray and looked like characterless soviet block buildings. A busy Chang’an Avenue separated the square from the entrance to the Forbidden City. Besides the blue sky, everything here is gray. It was great to see the relaxed faces of the local adults, and kids being kids. It is an open space for the masses to gather freely , mass gathering for the regime, historic events and a great place to people -watch. The control by the authorities is tangible. Furthermore, there is no sitting areas or benches. A must-see place, perhaps. If you are a history buff, Mao’s mausoleum is a must. He is still there for all to see.