Tian'anmen closes as countdown begins

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The Forbidden City and other popular tourist venues will begin closing to visitors from tomorrow, just two days out from National Day holiday.

Iconic venues including the Forbidden City, Tian'anmen Rostrum, and the Great Hall of the People will close tomorrow at 3 pm, and reopen on Friday at the earliest, the Tian'anmen Square managing authority told METRO.

 A float in a parade at the ongoing China Flower Expo in Shunyi on Saturday reflects the festive spirit of the National Day celebrations. Luo Xiaoguang

Tian'anmen Square will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

President Hu Jintao, along with other State leaders and VIPs, will watch a two-hour military and civilian parade from the rostrum on Thursday at 10 am.

A gala event organized by Olympic ceremony director Zhang Yimou and fireworks designer Cai Guoqiang will be staged later that night.

Beijing police expect tens of thousands of tourists to visit the square when it reopens on Oct 2. The authority is yet to announce the exact time when the square will reopen.

Many visitors were expected to watch the regular flag raising ceremony at Tian'anmen on Thursday.

METRO has also learned the Great Hall of the People will be closed four days longer than other venues in Tian'anmen Square. It will reopen to visitors on Oct 6.

Meanwhile, the newly renovated China National Museum on the east side of the square, which has set up an observation deck for visitors to enjoy Tian'anmen Square's decorations, will reopen its doors to visitors free of charge on Oct 3.

The Forbidden City Museum will be reopened on Friday morning. The museum's ticket office said in order to ensure the safety of visitors, the south gate will be used as the entrance and the exit will be two gates in its east and west wings.

Meanwhile, security is tight in Beijing, with police officers citywide and in nearby provinces being mobilized for the operation. The city's 1 million security volunteers, including expatriates living in Beijing, will work full-time starting today.

On Wednesday, the capital's 7,000 traffic police, equipped with GPS devices, will be in charge of clearing a path for thousands of servicemen and women, armed vehicles and 200,000 performers for the parade.

A command center has been set up at the Imperial Ancestral Temple, just east of Tian'anmen Square, to monitor security during the celebrations. From there, military, police and officials will monitor live footage from 40,000 cameras in Beijing.

Major hotels along Chang'an avenue, where the parade will be held, will be closed from today until Friday.

(China Daily September 28, 2009)

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