Mao, Xi, Tiananmen Square & CPEC

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Naveed Aman Khan

CHINA-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has surely opened new political, diplomatic, economic and social multidimensional avenues for Pakistan and China in particular. Because of CPEC, people to people contacts are providing opportunities to us all. On my visit to China, I reached one of the top spacious grand squares of the world “The Tiananmen Square” of Beijing to pay homage to the Founding Father of Chinese Nation, Great Chairman Mao Zedong. Weather was very pleasant and floating gray, brown and white clouds were adding colours to my adorable visit to Tiananmen Square. Towering Chinese flag and strong wind multiplied fascination of the occasion. Gigantic welcoming flowery arrangement in front of the Great Hall was representing heartiest feelings of the great Chinese nation. It was 9:00 in the morning and over five hundred thousand people from all over the world were at Tiananmen Square to pay homage with pin drop silence of dignified respect and honour.

It was miles long zigzag queue of half a million lovers of Chairman Mao Zedong. At Tiananmen Square the first building on the left is the mausoleum where Chairman Mao Zedong is paid homage every day by hundreds of thousands of people of different nations, cultures and creeds. It looks Chairman Mao Zedong is the Chairman of all the visitors of different countries. Tiananmen Square is a city square in the centre of Beijing, China, named after the Tiananmen “Gate of Heavenly Peace” located to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. The Square contains the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in the Square on October 1,1949. The anniversary of this event is still observed there. Tiananmen Square is one of the top ten largest squares of the world spread on 109 acres. It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history.

Tiananmen Square in the early 20th Century, viewed from Zhengyangmen Gate (Qianmen Gate) with the Gate of China, later removed in 1954, in place of the present day Mao Zedong Mausoleum. The “corridor of a thousand steps” is visible behind the Gate of China, and Tiananmen Gate is in the distance. The Tiananmen (“Gate of Heavenly Peace”), a gate in the wall of the Imperial City, was built in 1415 during the Ming Dynasty. In the 17th Century, fighting between Li Zicheng’s rebel forces and the forces of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty caused heavy damage to, or even destroyed, the gate. Tiananmen Square was designed and built in 1651, and has since been enlarged by four times its original size in the 1950s. Near the centre of the Square stood the “Great Ming Gate”, the southern gate to the Imperial City, renamed “Great Qing Gate” during the Qing Dynasty and “Gate of China” during the Republican era. Unlike the other gates in Beijing, such as the Tiananmen and the Zhengyangmen, this was a purely ceremonial gateway, with three arches but no ramparts, similar in style to the ceremonial gateways found in the Ming tombs. This gate had a special status as the “Gate of the Nation”, as can be seen from its successive names. It normally had remained closed, except when the Emperor passed through. Commoner traffic had been diverted to side gates at the western and eastern ends of the Square, respectively. Because of this diversion in traffic, a busy market place, called “Chess Grid Streets”, later got developed in the big fenced square to the south of this gate.

In 1860, during the Second Opium War, when British and French troops invaded Beijing, they pitched camp near the gate and briefly considered burning down the gate and the entire Forbidden City. They decided ultimately to spare the Forbidden City and instead burn down the Old Summer Palace. The Xianfeng Emperor eventually agreed to let the foreign powers barrack troops and later establish diplomatic missions in the area, hence there was the Legation Quarter immediately to the east of the square. When the forces of the Eight Nation Alliance besieged Beijing during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, they badly damaged the office complexes and burnt down several ministries. After the Boxer Rebellion ended, the area became a space for the foreign powers to assemble their military forces. In 1954, the Gate of China was demolished, allowing for the enlargement of this Square. In November 1958, a major expansion of Tiananmen Square started, which was completed after only 11 months, in August 1959. This followed the vision of Mao Zedong to make the Square the largest and most spectacular in the world and intended to hold over five hundred thousand people. In that process, a large number of residential buildings and other structures have been demolished. On its southern edge, the Monument to the People’s Heroes has been erected. Following footsteps of Chairman Mao years after President Xi Jinping has successfully erected and initiated CPEC to commemorate Chairman Mao Zedong’s vision of great China.

omic development in Pakistanas well, by increasing the income of the people and also their standard of living. Thus the social expansion of the CPEC is expected to serve the welfare of the people of Pakistan on a priority basis.

 

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