Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tightening up the Square
This afternoon I checked out Tiananmen Square and there are lots of changes happening with the Olympics just around the corner.
The place has been spruced up -- hardly looking like its usual self.
Chairman Mao's portrait is flanked by dancing fountains. All they're missing is the music to splash in an array of poses.
There's lots of security around, including this troop of young men in uniform marching along the sidewalk. They have been deployed all over the city, standing on practically every street corner, they along with elderly neighbourhood watch people, usually in pairs and wearing red arm bands.
But before getting to Tiananmen Square, I had to go through a security check in the underground passageway. That entailed putting my bag through an X-ray baggage machine. Interestingly they didn't ask me to drink my water or ask to look through my bag.
Tiananmen Square was full of people today, checking out the surreal floral arrangements in the theme of the Olympics. One side had "One World, One Dream" complete with a twiggy-looking National Stadium, or Bird's Nest along with pictographs of various sports running along a floral track.
There was also the giant Beijing Olympics logo standing on a podium of flowers arranged in a cloud-like pattern. That was protected by several guards worried someone might do something to it other than take pictures of it.
I found out later that these security checks are new as of today and could increase as the number of visitors to the square increases.
Gone were the vendors selling everything from flags to drinks and popsicles.
It's going to be a long, hot summer.