Tiananmen Square Today


On special occasions like national holidays, so many Chinese tourists crowd into Tiananmen Square that it can take hours to push and shove your way from one end to another. The eve of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is apparently not one of those days.

Tiananmen Square in Beijing. (By Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post)

Tiananmen at midday today was so empty that kids were skateboarding there.

The once-open plaza was divided into several sections by walls of trees--presumably to prevent mass demonstrations like the one in 1989 that made the square infamous. Only a handful of soldiers in uniform stood at attention, making sure the visitors didn't touch the elaborate works of art made out of plants and flowers that looked like Macy's Thanksgiving Day floats. A group of tourists unfurled an Algerian flag, but no one seemed to care.

In describing Beijing's "coming out party," officials have said they expected the city to be overwhelmed with visitors--some 500,000 overseas tourists, 500,000 domestic tourists, and 20,000 journalists--but it's unclear how many actually showed up. With new visa restrictions and worries about unrest, some tourists that had purchased tickets to sports events are still at home. More than a few Beijing residents, too, have fled the city. Tour operators say there are brisk sales of tour packages that are specially designed for Beijingers who want to stay away during the Olympics.

--Ariana Eunjung Cha

August 7, 2008; 11:00 AM ET  | Category:  Postmark Beijing
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You neglect to mention the nearly one million volunteers from all over the world who applied for the 70,000 service jobs with Olympics 2008.

It's a big story and I am sure each volunteer can give you glowing reports of their experiences working with the Chinese officials.

Posted by: CFarer43 | August 7, 2008 3:01 PM

The square is famous indeed, but not infamous at all. Do a survey of average Chinese you will easily find out. Every early morning there are hundreds of people from all around the country to observe the flag-raising event.

If what you mean is that China killed a lot of innocent people, then study the history and you can easily found out that US killed much much more.

Don’t mix your personal hatred of China with your profession. It is called unethical.

Posted by: KKK | August 7, 2008 5:15 PM

"If what you mean is that China killed a lot of innocent people, then study the history and you can easily found out that US killed much much more."

That's kind of like like saying nobody should be bringing up that you raped a girl, because some other guy sodomized the girl he raped. As insane as this argument is, when you're talking about rape or human rights violations, it seems strangely common nonsensical rhetoric by people defending China's human rights violations. I guess anybody smart enough not to, wouldn't be stupid enough to make such a ridiculous argument in the first place.

Free China!

Posted by: BC | August 7, 2008 11:29 PM

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