Tiananmen Square

Beijing China



Tiananmen Square History

Tiananmen is the largest public square in the world, covering over 44 hectares and is always filled with tourists from all over China. In the middle of the Square is the Monument to the People's Heroes. Directly north is Chang'an Avenue, Beijing's main street.

Across the street is Tiananmen Gate, which is recognizable by the huge portrait of Mao Zedong. Tiananmen Gate is the gate which leads to the Forbidden City. To the west is the Great Hall of the People which houses the National People's Congress, but when the Congress is not in session the Hall is the venue for concerts and cultural events. The Great Hall is occasionally rented out for other purposes as well. Off to the east is the National History Museum, on which is displayed a large digital countdown clock, ticking off the days and seconds until the return of Macao to Chinese sovereignty on December 20, 1999. Before July 1, 1997, the same clock was used to count down the days until the return of Hong Kong. Back to the south is the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, where you can wait in line and be quickly ushered past the crystal coffin where "Mao" now lies.  A specially-trained battalion of PLA troops marches out each morning and raises the flag exactly at sunrise. Then, at sunset the flag is taken down again. Every day many tourists gather in the Square to watch this solemn ceremony. On holidays and special occasions the Square is filled with flower arrangements and fountains.

Between the Memorial Hall stands the Memorial to China's Fallen Soldiers. 

The 1989 protest in Beijing, was the culmination of a series of student-led prodemocracy demonstrations in China. The events leading up to the Tiananmen Square protest began with the death of Hu Yaobang, a former general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, in April 1989. Hu had become a hero to Chinese liberals after he refused to halt unrest in January 1987. Following Hu’s death, students began peaceful memorial demonstrations in Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities. The memorial escalated into a prodemocracy movement, with protesters demanding the removal of China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and other Communist officials. The government’s order to end the demonstrations on April 20 was ignored. On May 4, approximately 100,000 students and workers marched in Beijing demanding democratic reforms. On May 20 the government declared martial law, however the demonstrations continued while the government wavered between the leadership of Premier Li Peng and CCP General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. Eventually choosing the hard-line approach of Li Peng, with the support of Deng, the government ordered troops to Tian’an Men Square. On June 3 and 4, 1989, the People’s Liberation Army crushed prodemocracy supporters, killing hundreds of supporters, injuring another 10,000, and arresting hundreds of students and workers. Following the violence, the government conducted widespread arrests, summary trials, and executions; banned the foreign press; and strictly controlled the Chinese press. 

Adapted in part from Microsoft Encarta 98




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