Photographer's Note

Today we are again in the centre of Beijing, standing in Tiananmen Square and looking at the Gate of Heavenly Peace, which marks an entrance to the Forbidden City.

The gate was built in the 15th century and restored in the 17th, and was formerly the largest of the four gates of the Imperial Wall which surrounded the imperial grounds. The gate is divided into five doors reached via seven bridges spanning a stream. Each of these bridges was restricted in its use and only the emperor could use the central door and bridge.

Today the red communist flags are flying proudly in the breeze and a portrait of Chairman Mao overlooks the traffic. To the left of Mao's portrait runs the slogan "Long live the People's Republic of China" and to the right "Long live the unity of the peoples of the world". The portrait was famously pelted with paint filled eggs during the 1989 demonstrations in the square, but a number of spares of the portrait exist and a fresh replacement one was rapidly put up.

The bicycle is probably just as much a national symbol as any of the flags or portraits, and I waited for a suitable subject to move into the frame before taking this picture. Owing to various fences and security, I could not move any closer and had to make do with the white fence in the foreground.

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Additional Photos by Susanna Leon (sleon) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 724 W: 76 N: 2025] (9402)
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