"我爱北京天安门” (I Love Beijing Tian'anmen) a Chinese Children's song goes. . .
The Gate of Heavenly Peace is of central importance to Beijing. It is the front gate to the Forbidden City. It also sits at the northern end of fourth largest square in the world: Tian'anmen, where so much of China's 20th Century history has run through.
Tian'anmen is the central reference point of the city. It is the square of Chinese power. Where Mao proclaimed the founding of the PRC and welcomed Red Guards. It is lined by buildings such as the Great Hall of the People and the National Museum, as well as containing Mao's Tomb. It is also the space of Chinese state repression. All you have to do is think of 6/4 or 1989. All these things, all these ghosts, linger in the square, embedded in its concrete.
Mao's portrait looks out over the empty space. . .
Patriotic videos of China's greatness play in the middle. Tourists mingle. The seal of the PRC sits giant on top of the soviet style building.
It is a place of ambivalent feelings and layered meanings, yet it is still striking to be here. To come on the October Holiday and see the people mingle, proud of their country. Or to sit in the rooftop garden of one of my favorite restaurants, Capital M, and look out over the square. I don't always know what to think.
All roads in Beijing lead through Tian'anmen. . .
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