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Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China - feature photo

Well today made me think of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, as it was today 17 years ago 03/06/89. That the Chinese tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square to attack pro-democracy protesters. And this time tomorrow hundreds or thousands of students and their supporters would have been laid dead around the streets.

There was a very interesting documentary on the Tiananmen Square Massacre on More4 last week called “Tank Man”.

Well Tiananmen Square is a very recent addition to Beijing, traditionally places where the public could gather were traditionally never built. Unfortunately its construction meant the destruction of some of the walls of the Forbidden City. This area used to be used for Chinese imperial offices which were inside the walls of the Forbidden City and were also connected to the Temple of Heaven and the palace. Tiananmen meaning “The Gate of Heavenly Peace” is the original entrance to the Imperial Palace, generally known as the Forbidden City. It was originally built in 1417 and was also burned down a few times, and its most recent incarnation was built in 1651.

Most notably it is a world recognised symbol of where Mao Tse-tung laid the cornerstone on September 30, 1949, a day before the official establishment of the People’s Republic of China. The location was chosen to represent a break with the feudal dynastic past by being in the middle of the old imperial pathway.

There is an excellent book on Mao called Mao: The Unknown Story ~ Jung Chang, Jon Halliday.

The 40m monument Renmin Yinxiong Jinian Bei which was completed in 1958, (Monument to the People’s Heroes) sits in the middle of Tiananmen Square. Which was made to respect the Chinese who died in the struggle to make China an independent nation before the Communists came to govern, it has also acted as a lightning rod for opposition. After the Falungong demonstrations, it was cordoned off from the public.

At the base of this monument are eight 2m tall panels depicting influential events in the Communist interpretation of Chinese history between 1839 and 1949 which are amusing to say the least!

Tiananmen Square, Beijing – Travel Photos