FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Sunset in Tian’anmen Square

Posted in Beijing, China by folkestonejack on November 20, 2012

At the end of my last full day in Beijing I headed to Tian’anmen Square to see the sunset flag lowering ceremony, which is probably as clichéd a tourist experience as the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace or feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. However, sometimes you just have to give in and do these things… after all, you would miss some incredible places if you only ever did stuff off the beaten track!

The Chinese flag flies in Tian'anmen Square

The Chinese flag flies in Tian’anmen Square

I arrived about an hour before sunset to find that the three sides of the flagpole accessible from Tian’anmen Square were almost completely lined with tourists (with hardly a westerner amongst them). There was a noticeable army and police presence, along with other men in tracksuits who looked like they shouldn’t be messed with. I guess with the recent increase in security for the party congress there was still a degree of lingering nervousness, though I don’t know what counts as normal to make any proper comparisons! The soldiers had fire extinguishers at the ready to deal with any self-immolations, particularly after a spate of such incidents at other locations in China.

The flag is taken down from Tian'anmen Square at sunset

The flag is taken down from Tian’anmen Square at sunset

A moment or two before sunset the traffic stopped and soldiers marched out from the tower on the square. The flag was lowered respectfully and then the traffic was stopped once again to allow the soldiers to return. Once this act had been completed the crowds were encouraged to leave the square. I headed back to my hotel to get myself ready for my journey homeward in the morning.

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