Today after work I made my third annual pilgrimage to Tiananmen Square on the eve of June 4.
The past two times I was able to get onto the square and walk around despite many uniformed and probably plain clothed policemen milling around. Locals wandered around like tourists, playing with kites or taking pictures.
But this year was different.
I got there just in time for the flag-lowering ceremony at dusk.
However, we weren't even allowed to go into the square at all -- the entrances from the subway were blocked off with rope and two guards at each entrance. Police above ground were stationed everywhere, preventing people from crossing the street to go to the square either.
This was strange, as I've witnessed another flag-lowering ceremony and we were allowed onto the square, but not in the cordoned off area where the flag was.
So we had to make our way to the side street to watch the flag being lowered and then traffic stopped as soldiers carried it across Chang'an Avenue.
People anxiously took pictures of the flag as it was lowered and then when it was over, many of them made their way to bus stop or back down into the subway. Others lingered a bit longer, but as it was getting dark there wasn't much point in hanging around.
The government is taking no chances this year.
People go on public property -- a place that belongs to them.