Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

[tyahn-ahn-men]
Tiananmen Square, large public square in Beijing, China, on the southern edge of the Inner or Tatar City. The square, named for its Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen), contains the monument to the heroes of the revolution, the Great Hall of the People, the museum of history and revolution, and the Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall (with Mao's embalmed body). Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic in the square on Oct. 1, 1949, an anniversary still observed there. A massive demonstration for democratic reform, begun there by Chinese students in Apr., 1989, was brutally repressed on June 3 and 4. It was initiated to demand the posthumous rehabilitation of former Communist Party Chairman Hu Yaobang. The government was tolerant until after his funeral; then Deng Xiaoping denounced the protests. The demonstrators were joined by workers, intellectuals, and civil servants, until over a million people filled the square. General Secretary Zhao Ziyang expressed sympathy, but lost out to Deng, who supported the use of military suppression. Martial law was declared on May 20. The protesters demanded that the leadership resign, but the government answered on the nights of June 3 and 4 with troops and tanks, killing thousands to quell a "counterrevolutionary rebellion." Zhao was dismissed and a number of the student leaders were arrested.

One of the largest public squares in the world, originally designed and built in Beijing in 1651 and enlarged in 1958. It is named for the massive stone “Gate of Heavenly Peace” (Tiananmen) at its northern end. It contains and is surrounded by halls, museums, and monuments, including the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, where Mao's body rests in state. Tiananmen Square is the site of numerous parades and other celebrations. It has also been the rallying point for political demonstrations, including events during the May Fourth Movement in 1919 and during May–June 1989.

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