Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

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Encyclopedia
Tiananmen Square is a large city square
Town square
A town square is an open public space commonly found in the heart of a traditional town used for community gatherings. Other names for town square are civic center, city square, urban square, market square, public square, and town green.Most town squares are hardscapes suitable for open markets,...

 in the center of Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, named after the Tiananmen
Tiananmen
The Tiananmen, Tian'anmen or Gate of Heavenly Peace is a famous monument in Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China. It is widely used as a national symbol. First built during the Ming Dynasty in 1420, Tian'anmen is often referred to as the front entrance to the Forbidden City...

 Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) located to its North, separating it from the Forbidden City
Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum...

. Tiananmen Square is the third largest city square in the world (440,000 m² - 880m by 500m). It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history. Outside China, the square is best known in recent memory as the focal point of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

, a pro-democracy movement which ended on 4 June 1989 with the declaration of martial law in Beijing by the government and the death of at least hundreds of protesters.

History



The Tiananmen
Tiananmen
The Tiananmen, Tian'anmen or Gate of Heavenly Peace is a famous monument in Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China. It is widely used as a national symbol. First built during the Ming Dynasty in 1420, Tian'anmen is often referred to as the front entrance to the Forbidden City...

 Gate to the Forbidden City was built in 1415 during the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

. Towards the demise of the Ming Dynasty, heavy fighting between Li Zicheng and the early Qing emperors
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 damaged (or perhaps destroyed) the gate. The Tian'anmen square was designed and built in 1651, and has since enlarged four times its original size in the 1950s.

Near the centre of today's square, stood the "Great Ming Gate", the southern gate to the Imperial City, renamed "Great Qing Gate" during the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

, and "Gate of China" during the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 era. Unlike the other gates in Beijing, such as the Tiananmen and the Qianmen
Qianmen
Qianmen is the colloquial name for Zhengyangmen , a gate in Beijing's historic city wall. The gate is situated to the south of Tiananmen Square and once guarded the southern entry into the Inner City. Although much of Beijing's city walls were demolished, Qianmen remains an important...

, this was a purely ceremonial gateway, with three arches but no ramparts, similar in style to the ceremonial gateways found in the Ming Dynasty Tombs
Ming Dynasty Tombs
The Ming Dynasty Tombs are located some 51.35 kilometers due north of central Beijing, within the suburban Changping District of Beijing municipality...

. This gate had a special status as the "Gate of the Nation", as can be seen from its successive names. It normally remained closed, except when the Emperor passed through. Commoner traffic was diverted to two side gates at the northern and eastern ends of today's square, respectively. Because of this diversion in traffic, a busy marketplace, called Chessgrid Streets developed in the big, fenced square to the south of this gate.

British and French troops who invaded Beijing in 1860
Second Opium War
The Second Opium War, the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war pitting the British Empire and the Second French Empire against the Qing Dynasty of China, lasting from 1856 to 1860...

 pitched camp near the gate and briefly considered burning down the gate and the entire Forbidden City. They decided ultimately to spare the palace and to burn instead the emperor's Old Summer Palace
Old Summer Palace
The Old Summer Palace, known in China as Yuan Ming Yuan , and originally called the Imperial Gardens, was a complex of palaces and gardens in Beijing...

. The Qing emperor eventually agreed to let the foreign powers establish headquarters in the area. During the Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

 of 1900 the siege badly damaged the office complexes and several ministries were burnt down. In the conflict's denouement, the area became a space for foreign troops to assemble their armies and horses.

In the early 1950s, the Gate of China was demolished, allowing for the enlargement of the square. In November 1958 a major expansion of Tiananmen Square started, which was completed after only 1 month, in August 1959. This followed the vision of Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 to make the square the largest and most spectacular in the world, and intended to hold over 500,000 people. In that process, a large number of residential buildings and other structures have been demolished. On its southern edge, the Monument to the People's Heroes
Monument to the People's Heroes
The Monument to the People's Heroes is a ten-story obelisk that was erected as a national monument of the People's Republic of China.The Monument was built in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the revolutionary struggles of the Chinese people during the 19th and 20th centuries...

 has been erected. Concomitantly, as part of the Ten Great Buildings
Ten Great Buildings
The Ten Great Buildings are ten public buildings built in Beijing in 1959 to commemorate the ten year anniversary of the People's Republic of China. They were part of an architecture and urbanism initiative of the Great Leap Forward, and were completed in a time span of ten months, by their...

 constructed between 1958-59 to commemorate the ten year anniversary of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, the Great Hall of the People
Great Hall of the People
The Great Hall of the People is located at the western edge of Tiananmen Square, Beijing, People's Republic of China, and is used for legislative and ceremonial activities by the People's Republic of China and the Communist Party of China. It functions as the People's Republic of China's...

 and the Revolutionary History Museum (now National Museum of China
National Museum of China
The National Museum of China flanks the eastern side of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. The mission of the museum is to educate about the arts and history of China...

) were erected on the western and eastern sides of the square.

The year after Mao's death in 1976, a Mausoleum
Mausoleum of Mao Zedong
The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall , commonly known as the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, or the Mao Mausoleum, is the final resting place of Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China from 1943 and the chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China from 1945...

 was built near the site of the former Gate of China, on the main north-south axis of the square. In connection with this project, the square was further increased in size to become fully rectangular and being able to accommodate 600,000 persons.

The urban context of the square was altered in the 1990s with the construction of National Grand Theatre in its vicinity and the expansion of the National Museum.

Configuration



Used as a massive meeting place since its creation, its flatness is contrasted by the 38-meter (125 ft) high Monument to the People's Heroes, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. The square lies between two ancient, massive gates: the Tian'anmen to the north and the Zhengyangmen, better known as Qianmen to the south. Along the west side of the Square is the Great Hall of the People. Along the east side is the National Museum of China (dedicated to Chinese history predating 1919). Chang'an Avenue
Chang'an Avenue
Chang'an Avenue , literally "Eternal Peace Street", is a major thoroughfare in Beijing, China.Chang'an is the old name for Xi'an which was the capital of China during the Tang Dynasty and other periods....

, which is used for parades, lies between the Tian'anmen and the Square. Trees line the east and west edges of the Square, but the square itself is open, with neither trees nor benches. The Square is lit with large lampposts which are fitted with video cameras. It is heavily monitored by uniformed and plain clothes policemen.

Events


Tiananmen Square has been the site of a number of political events and student protests. These include the May Fourth Movement
May Fourth Movement
The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement growing out of student demonstrations in Beijing on May 4, 1919, protesting the Chinese government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, especially the Shandong Problem...

 in 1919; the proclamation of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 by Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 on October 1, 1949; annual mass military displays on all subsequent National Days until October 1, 1959; the 1984 military parade for the 35th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, the 50th anniversary in 1999, and the 60th anniversary in 2009; the Tiananmen Square protests in 1976
Tiananmen Incident
The Tiananmen Incident took place on April 5, 1976 at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. The incident occurred on the traditional day of mourning, the Qingming Festival, after the Nanjing Incident, and was triggered by the death of Premier Zhou Enlai earlier that year...

 after the death of premier Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

; and the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

.

The protests of 1989 resulted in the massacre of Chinese protesters in the streets to the west of the square and adjacent areas. There are reports where soldiers opened fire on protesters, killing 400–800, and perhaps many more. Eyewitness accounts of the events on the night of June 3 and the early morning of June 4, 1989 continue to emerge from former student leaders and intellectuals, broadening the scope of the original reporting of the massacre by Western media outlets. This was the scene for the iconic image of Tank Man
Tank Man
Tank Man, or the Unknown Rebel, is the nickname of an anonymous man who stood in front of a column of Chinese Type 59 tanks the morning after the Chinese military forcibly removed protestors from in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. The man achieved widespread international...

, where a column of PLA
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

 tanks was stopped in its tracks by a protester. No one knows if the man in the image is still alive. Further reports show that the theatre of the massacre spanned across Beijing, and was densely concentrated on Chang'an Avenue
Chang'an Avenue
Chang'an Avenue , literally "Eternal Peace Street", is a major thoroughfare in Beijing, China.Chang'an is the old name for Xi'an which was the capital of China during the Tang Dynasty and other periods....

, literally the "Eternal Peace Street," or the main approach to Tiananmen gate where citizens returned to locate missing protesters driven from the square hours before. Video footage shows the military repeatedly opening fire here on unarmed citizens and medical personnel advancing toward Tiananmen Square to locate the missing and assist the wounded.

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