Beijing literally means “northern capital” (as opposed to Nanjing, meaning “southern capital” and Tonkin and Tokyo, both of which mean “eastern capital”). Beijing is sometimes referred to as Peking. The term originated with French missionaries four hundred years ago, and corresponds to an archaic pronunciation which does not take into account a /k/ to /t?/ sound change in Mandarin that occurred during the Qing dynasty. (/t?/ is represented in pinyin as j, as in Beijing.)
In China, the city has had many names. Between 1928 and 1949, it was known as Beiping ( Wade-Giles Peip’ing) or “Northern Peace”. The name was changed because jing means “capital” and the Kuomintang government in Nanjing wanted to emphasize that Beijing was not the capital of China, and Beijing’s warlord government was not legitimate.
The name was changed back to Beijing by the Japanese, since Beijing was the capital of a North China; at the end of World War II the Republic of China changed the name back. The Communist Party of China changed the name to Beijing in 1949 again in part to emphasize that Beijing was the capital of China. The government of the Republic of China on Taiwan has not formally recognized the name change, and during the 1950s and 1960s it was common for Beijing to be called Peiping on Taiwan. Today, almost everyone on Taiwan, including the ROC government, uses the term Beijing, although some maps of China from Taiwan still use the old name along with pre-1949 provincial boundaries.
Beijing borders Hebei province to the north, west, south, and for a tiny fraction to the east. The southwestern part borders Tianjin municipality. Hills dominate the scene to the north, northwest and west of Beijing.
The city’s climate is harsh, characterized by hot, humid summers (due to the East Asian monsoon), and cold, windy, dry winters (reflecting the influence of the vast Siberian anticyclone, or high-pressure system).
The urban area of Beijing spreads out in bands of concentric ring roads. Tian’anmen is right at the centre of Beijing, and is directly to the south of the well-known Forbidden City, and to the east of Zhongnanhai, current residence of the paramount leaders of the People’s Republic of China. Running through central Beijing from east to west is the well-known Chang’an Avenue.
Most of the area of Beijing Municipality, however, is found outside the urban area of Beijing, and extends in all directions, especially northwards into the Yanshan Mountains.
Weather in Beijing
Monument to the People’s Heroes Beijing China
The 38-metre-high monument was open on July 1, 1958. It covers an area of 3,000 square metres. The stone tablet is from Qingdao, Shandong Province. On the front is an inscription in Chairman Mao’s handwriting:’ Eternal glory to the people’s heroes!’ On the back is the late Premier Zhou Enlai’s message:
‘ Eternal glory to the people’s heroes who laid down their lives in the War of Liberation in the past three years and the people’s revolution in the past three decades! Eternal glory to the people’s heroes who laid down their lives in the struggles against foreign and domestic enemies, for national independence and for the people’s freedom and happiness from 1840 onward !’
Duanmen, Forbidden City in Beijing
Although no longer occupied by royalty, the Forbidden City remains a symbol of Chinese sovereignty and the image of its entrance gate appears on the seal of the People’s Republic of China.
The Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Interestingly there is an ultra-modern Starbucks coffee shop to be found in the Forbidden City — this is an interesting merging between the new and the old but some say that this blatantly desecrates the grounds of the City
The Great Hall of the People
The Great Hall of the People is located at the western edge of Tiananmen Square, Beijing, People’s Republic of China. It was built in 10 months by volunteers in 1958 and 1959.
With floor space of more than 170,000 sqare meters it has 300 meeting halls, lounges and office rooms. Each meeting hall is named after a political division of China and furnished according to the local style. The National People’s Congress meets at the 10,000-seat auditorium annually and its Standing Committee meets in another room.
The Beijing Hotel
The Beijing Hotel, the old building was built in 1900, at the turn of the centuray. It is located in the center of Beijing, right on Chang-An Jie St.
The Monument to the People’s Heroes
The Monument to the People’s Heroes was built in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the revolutionary struggle of the Chinese people in the past century. It was built in accordance with the resolution of the First Plenary Session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference adopted on November 30, 1949. Chairman Mao and other delegates laid the corner stone for the monument on that afternoon.
All pictures by the author
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