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June 4, 2009
Police, umbrellas block view of Tiananmen on anniversary

Umbrellas block the view of Tiananmen Square on the 20th anniversary of a bloody crackdown there.

On June 4, two decades ago, the Chinese government ordered its soldiers to open fire on demonstrators calling for democracy in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

On Thursday, the anniversary of that bloody day in 1989, there were no activists or student protesters to be seen — only members of the People’s Army. Security was kept tight and foreign journalists were not granted permission for entrance to the square.

Blogger “Hugh” at “Zhongnanhai” is a journalist who has been living and working in China since 2004. He visits Tiananmen Square on the anniversary and describes the heavy security:


I hadn’t planned to mark this June 4th in Beijing in any particular way. But work ended early, and my subway trip home takes me directly under Tiananmen Square. At a time when the younger generation in China has little or no idea what happened in the capital 20 years ago, and the older generations just want to forget about it, I decided a stop at the infamous landmark was in order.

As I ascended from Tiananmen West station, the first thing I expected to see was an immense amount of security — and I wasn’t disappointed. Amid the thinner-than-usual crowds were the usual contingent of local police and slow marching PLA soldiers. On any given day in Tiananmen, you will also see a healthy smattering of plain clothes security personnel. Today there were legions of them. Aside from the standard issue dress shirt and slacks, they weren’t even trying to blend in. If the rather large CPC pins they were each wearing wasn’t a give away, then the rather girlish summer umbrellas each of them was carrying certainly was. Altogether, the number of security personnel easily matched the number of tourists. As I strolled eastward, I glanced back to see if I was being followed. I don’t think I was. It wouldn’t have mattered though, since each plain clothes cop was stationed about ten feet away from the next one. Their penetrating, suspicious-of-anything eyes followed every step I took.

Just past the looming portrait of Mao, I stopped for a moment and surveyed the area to the south. I remembered that famous photo of the man in front of a line of tanks, taken just meters away from where I was standing.

[…]As I approached the entrance to Tiananmen East station, the only public display of grief I saw was a young lady crouched on the sidewalk next to a lamppost. She had her face cupped in her hand, but instead of remembering the hundreds — possibly thousands — of students and workers who were indiscriminately gunned down here 20 years ago, I suspect she was simply trying to cope with a mild case of heatstroke.

Twenty years after an event here that shook the world, everything at Tiananmen Square seems pretty quiet and under control. Just the way the government wants it.

To read more, see the original post.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user flippy whale under a Creative Commons license.

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