In unpacking and sorting out the jumble of papers I discovered this wonderful, most thoughtful commentary that had not been entered and bears no signature. I’m hoping that the writer will let me know so that I can properly credit it to them. Nan
by Jeanne Gehle
As our group left for the Forbidden City, one could not help but reflect on its vast scale and the opulence of the life of the emperor’s in contrast to the poverty of the Chinese people under their rule.
As I walked thru the main gate and saw Tiananmen Square for the first time, I was unprepared. It is the existential reflection of the Forbidden City. It’s size matches that of the Forbidden City. I was told that by creating Tiananmen Square, Mao attempted to erase the crushing weight of oppression that had held the Chinese masses down.
However, in direct contrast to the Forbidden City; it’s endlessness is intermittantly interrupted by the presence of a few, large grey sterile buildings crowned with traditional Chinese motiff roofs.
At one end of the Square is Mao’s mausoleum open to the public for viewing. To either side of the Square are civil buildings – the Soviet era “Hall of the People”, the National Museum of Chinese History, and the National Museum of the Chinese Revolution.
It was late afternoon and Chinese citizens and tourists were sitting on the Square in a line across one end waiting for the Flag Lowering Ceremony. Four Chinese Military Guards in full press stood at attention on eith side of the Flag. There was an aura of pride eminating from the spectators. What a contrast to my memory of Red Guards, Tanks & Troops storming the Square and the killing of so many Chinese students and bystanders as they protested against Mao for democracy.
Today as I watched, vendors peddaled their wares, tour guides held their flags high leading their groups proudly around the Square, familied picniced, children ran and played and kites flew high as the portrait of MAO looked on.