It was just another day on the Square, though it seemed there were slightly fewer people than usual. Many must have been turned away at the security line underground, as officers informed, “If you don’t have ID, don’t bother waiting in line.” The sternest reprimand we heard all day came from an officer who halted a woman sauntering past the queue. “Go wait in line,” he barked. “Do you not see all these people waiting?”
The Square itself was as you’d expect it to be: immaculate, expansive, as clean as the day it was built, as if nothing ever happened there. Across the Avenue of Eternal Peace, Tiananmen — the size of which always takes me aback — stood as an apt symbol of modern China: big, red, bold, full of right angles, refurbished, a mixture of old and new. Mao gazed out from between giant block letters. You look long enough and you just might convince yourself he’ll be there forever.
The flag will go back up at 4:47 am.