Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tiananmen Square

Pipkin visited Tiananmen Square on June 1st, just a few days before the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. It goes without saying that these photographs are long overdue, but Pipkin has really struggled with revisiting these photos.

Security had been extremely tight just a couple days before he visited. The Chinese government realizes 6/4 is a "sensitive time" and they wanted to prevent any demonstrations and protests. Their solution? To shut down Tiananmen Square.

Sitting at the heart of Beijing, Tiananmen Square spans 440,000 square metres and can hold about 600,000 people. Imagine, then, how Pipkin felt when he hopped around the outside of the Square at dusk and saw only empty space, with groups of soldiers marching about. It was quite eerie. He wished he had taken photographs but it was getting very dark, and he was afraid of what the soldiers might do if he hung around too long.

Tiananmen Gate Tower
Just when he thought he wouldn't be able to visit Tiananmen Square until well after 6/4, Pipkin heard that it was open to visitors, although security was still very tight and the number of visitors was limited.

Pipkin stands in front of the Monument to the People's Heroes

Security cameras on the lamp posts
Pipkin's passport was scanned. Security checked to make sure he wasn't hiding anything in his mustache, and they went through his camera bag (this is standard security practice for visiting many tourist sites in Beijing). After he was cleared, Pipkin hopped through the gate and felt a chill as he took his first steps onto Tiananmen Square.

If you are unfamiliar with the Chinese students' demonstrations at Tiananmen Square and its fateful outcome, please head to this wikipedia link to give yourself a brief understanding of what occurred here in 1989.

In the background, Mao's Mausoleum

Pipkin's Western views of Mao and the Tiananmen Square Massacre shaped his visit to the Square as a sombre remembrance of the thousands (numbers are difficult to come by) of lives that were lost here. It was surreal for him to feel sadness while Chinese visitors remarked upon Mao being such a hero, and how his death was such a loss for China.

It's surprising to Pipkin, too, how so many young people today in China don't have any knowledge of the demonstrations in 1989. Strict censorship in China has limited any knowledge of this part of China's history.

This blog doesn't normally get serious and this topic is far too big to share here, so again, please spend a few minutes today to read about the Tiananmen Square Massacre. If you are old enough or grew up in the late 80's, you will no doubt recall "Tank Man", the young student who stepped in front of a row of tanks to peacefully protest China's military response to the demonstrations.

Pipkin will forever remember his visit to Tiananmen Square. Some things should not be forgotten.

1 comment:

  1. The extra security seems to have helped with your photos!


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