On the Tiananmen Square Anniversary - my experience in Beijing

I had been weaving back and forth on whether to go to Tiananmen Square today. Part of me felt like it was just going to be a circus of pushy foreign journalists, a bunch of gawking tourists and three million police and security guards.

And in some ways, it was. But I am still glad I went.

This morning, I got up and found myself putting my bag through an X-ray machine (camera and all) and heading into the square. I had stopped by last night and found the square blocked off. But there were loads of people out – not quite the mix I had pictured. When I went, there were probably about 1000 or 1500 people. Many of them were older, and I’m sure at least a third of them were plainclothes police.

The plainclothes police are so brutally obvious here. The crew cuts, the badly hidden walkie talkies, I almost want to take them aside and give them a lesson in how not to look like a blinking stoplight.

Everytime I tried to talk to anyone, police would listen and interrupt.

I took photos of them as they took photos of me. All in all, a strange experience.

Later in the day, my Chinese colleagues didn’t mention a thing. Nobody wore white (the colour of mourning here).

It all felt like I was straddling two different worlds.

The China that had chosen one door – well it felt like they were gone and forgotten.

And the new China that chose a different door didn’t say a word.


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