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Tiananmen Square, Beijing, January 6
Tiannamen Square, Beijing magnify

 

In May, 1989, I was jet-lagged and in a small hotel room in London. After a few hours of sleep, I woke up in the middle of the night, and turned on the TV.  The BBC was broadcasting the story of the Chinese students camped out and protesting in Tiananmen Square and Chinese army tanks trying to run them down. Not knowing much about their struggle at the time, I listened and tried to learn.  What these brave students did, is quite remarkable.  They managed to move the Chinese government from closed, introverted and secretive operations to an amazing world power, open for business.  The difference from then to now is startling.

Nearly 20 years later, as I stepped into Tiananmen Square, I could feel that this was a special place and sensed an emotional tie to those students struggling for Chinese freedom in 1989. The square is massive, supposedly allowing up to 1 million people to assemble there. It commemorates modern Chinese people and workers. Chairman Mao is entombed there. It is the “people’s square”. On Sunday, there were thousands of people peacefully strolling along on a chilly afternoon, children flying kites and couples holding hands.

 

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