Sentiments of a Nation's Identity at Tiananmen Square

By Christina Kim - July 28, 2017


Tiananmen Square (天安門廣場) is an iconic landmark; where the name itself is synonymous with the capital of China, Beijing, or sometimes, even the country.

The many events and the symbolic representation of the large city square located in the heart of Beijing city marked it as one of the most important sites and is listed as a national landmark.

The existence of the square, the purpose, the layout, the background, the significance are all major contributors to shaping the long history of China; from its establishment during the monarchy system to its existing republic status.

One of the top ten largest city squares in the world, Tiananmen Square is more than just an iconic national (and international) landmark, it is a symbol of history, culture, liberty and most of all, identity.


As I stood before this world renowned square; a vast space covering more than a hundred acres, surrounded by the buildings erected in significance, I was filled with mixed emotions.

As a history lover, I find myself imagining the events which took place; from its beginning of existence during the Ming Dynasty, to the Qing (last ruling dynasty of China) and the threats of destruction it faced during the foreign invasion; the Manchu-led troops which took down the Mings to the Opium War in which it fortunately evaded extinction during the Second Opium War when the British and French diverted their plan.

Tiananmen Square stood witness to the dramatic turn of these events in history, surviving them all though facing near destruction several times.

Looking at it all, none of them were truly uplifting in nature, though victories did take place during the events but they were still hostile in intention from the beginning.

Feelings of sadness overcame me as I recalled these events which I have read about since my childhood days.

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching one would be the infamous tragedy; one which the whole world remembered Tiananmen Square for; the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
(The Tiananmen Square Massacre is also known as the June Fourth Incident (六四事件) and the '89 Democracy Movement (八九民运) ).

The incident was significant of the nationalism among the people of China, and was a bold movement to call for freedom to which the demonstration was thwarted and cruelly suppressed, leading to the acts of violence by the government which resulted in deaths of the protesters.

It is brutal; and the incident threw the nation into international spotlight where the government was widely criticized and the overall nation suffered drastic setbacks in economy with the sanctions, bans and boycotts called by the other countries against China, an act of protest towards the actions/cruelty imposed by the government.
The national morale plummeted tremendously too and the incident sparked various controversies regarding the government system.

It was a significant event which shaped the country's political views, socio economy and overall governing system since then, though the aftermath of the incident still hits the sore point for any nationalist or liberal parties.

It was truly depressing and tragic that the incident became one of the milestones by which the city square is remembered by and words just cannot express the anguish I felt as I stood there, remembering those who have perished in that incident.
On these very grounds.

I bowed my head for a moment in silence and prayed for all of them who stood here and fought, to their last breath.
May their souls rest in peace.

Tiananmen Square is strategically located in the heart and its symbolism rings with the significance of the capital; where it stands right before the iconic Forbidden City.

It is perhaps a rather unique sight to behold and Tiananmen Square seems to set forth a rather obvious statement; as it stands distinctively between the past and the present of the nation.

Flanked by the Forbidden City which represents the past of China on one side of the square; one that is rich in historical background to the modernization which progressed, found on the Monument of the Peoples' Heroes (to remember the brave defenders of the country), the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao; the founder of the Republic of China, and the National Museum of China which holds the nation's important artifacts and the Great Hall of the People; all of which are the buildings surrounding the square standing on the other side.


It is a mix, yet at the same time a distinction between the past and present day China.

It is truly quite a distinguished sight to behold.

There is truly more to the square than you think; and if you think that it is just a massive and wide space with just a few buildings and for group assemblies, you might want to think again.

Not everything is visible to the eye, and sometimes you need to let yourself feel the unveiling of the events and flow with history.
You probably won't have a time machine; but you don't always need a time machine to go back to the past.

Take yourself and let yourself travel back in time, and forth, back to the present; and you will truly see what Tiananmen Square stands for in meaning.

That's what I did, and I see more than just acres of empty space littered with tourists; I could see them all.
I could feel the sentiments which ran through the people who stood here before me.

Tiananmen Square will continue to be one of China's best icons, and no one should ever forget that the hundred acres hold more than just buildings but the cries, the courage, and the liberation which passed by this land.

They are the sentiments from the past which formed the Change and the New; the present and modern day China.

All right here, on the site of Tiananmen Square; right in the heart of Beijing.




*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

Art Direction and Photography Styling by Me.
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