Posted by: rbbadger | June 8, 2009

Tian’anmen Square

This past week was the 20th anniversary of the Tian’anmen Square massacred of 1989.  While the images of that one, lone protestor standing up to a tank have been burned into the collective memory of the West, not to mention that of Hong Kong, in mainland China, it really is not as well known.  It is one of those topics which the history books do not cover, the government manages to filter off of the internet, and one of those things which the Central People’s Government would love to forget ever happened.

Guarding the entrance to the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tian’anmen) were members of the Public Safety Bureau (AKA The Police), the People’s Liberation Army, and members of the Communist Party of China.  They were wearing badges with the hammer and sickle of communism. 

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At the centre of the square is the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao.  I do not know why Communist countries like to embalm their former leaders for eternity.  But when Chairman Mao died in 1976, he was embalmed and his remains are still put out on display.  Like Ho Chi Minh, he asked to be cremated and buried.  Lenin also asked to be buried simply.  In all three cases, their final wishes were not respected.  So Chairman Mao’s body remains very much above ground.

On one side of Tian’anmen Square is the Great Hall of the People.  It is the home of the National People’s Council, China’s 3,000 member legislature.   There is a huge banqueting hall within where Richard Nixon was entertained during his visit to China.

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On the either side of the square is the National Museum.  While the National Museum and the Palace Museum at the Forbidden City have very impressive treasures, the best of Chinese art and the greater part of the imperial collections is not held on Mainland China at all.  Rather, it resides in the home of the Republic of China on Taiwan in Taipei City.  The People’s Republic of China has long desired to see the art collection’s return.  However, had it remained in China, it very likely would have been destroyed during the excesses of the Cultural Revolution.

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If everything looks hazy, the air pollution in Beijing is really horrible and the rain which fell earlier in the morning wasn’t helping.

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