Monday, October 02, 2006

Chinese National Day

How appropriate to start blogging during the Chinese National Day holiday. I, along with all 1.2 billion other people in the country, have off work for the entire week. Rather than attempt to endure travel hell on the overtaxed transportation system, I decided to just kick it in Beijing, and use the time to get to know my new home a little more intimately.

For those whose Chinese history knowledge could use a boost, a very brief intorduction to what National Day in China means: In 1911 the last dynasty, the Qing, collapsed. For many years thereafter, what was called The Republic of China was at the hands of several different powers. In 1928, the Guomindang (Kuomintang) tried to unify the country, but they met conflict from the Communist Party of China, lingering warlords, and the Japanese. After both a war with Japan and a period of civil war, the country was finally unified in 1949 when the Kuomintang fled to Taiwan and the Communists established the present-day People's Republic of China (PRC).

On Sunday evening, one of my roommates and a friend decided to head over to Tiananmen Square to check out the festivities for the 57th aniversary of the founding of the PRC. Much like a weekday 8:30 am ride on the Beijing subway, this was one of those times when I was acutely reminded of the degree of China's population (ahem, population problem). I couldn't possibly do justice to the magnitude of the masses in words, but have attached a few photos of the flag-lowering ceremony to give a vague idea of what "crowded" means in China. Being 5'7" is so convenient in photo-snapping times like these....

the crowds stretch across the square from where I'm standing to the illuminated Gate of Heavenly Peace

a boy gets a boost from his dad to check out the flag-lowering and corresponding illumination of Tiananmen Square

a large portrait of Dr. Sun Yat-sen is hoisted in the middle of the square

a final parting crowd shot before I hop on the subway to head home

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