Beijing to start reservation system for Tiananmen Square

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tiananmen Square in Beijing in February 2020

BEIJING — Visitors to Tiananmen Square in Beijing will need to make reservations to enter the expansive space in the center of the city starting Dec. 15, with the timing of implementing the new system drawing skepticism of the motives behind it.

The city, in announcing the move Friday, cited making it more convenient for tourists and as a novel coronavirus countermeasures among its reasons.

But, as the government of President Xi Jinping tightens security in the capital ahead of the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, it seems to be aimed at preventing possible unrest from terrorism, demonstrations or other disruptive incidents.

Those wishing to visit Tiananmen Square can reserve a date and time on a dedicated website or smartphone application after first registering personal information such as their full name and authorized identification number.

As one of China’s most famous tourist spots, Tiananmen Square is also the venue for important events held by the Chinese Communist Party, making it known as the place from which China’s image is spread around the world.

It was also the site of the 1989 incident in which Beijing used military force in a crack down on pro-democracy protesters. In 2013, a suspected suicide terrorist attack by an ethnic minority group of Uighurs left several killed when a vehicle plowed through the crowd in the square and caught fire.