Stages of History | Tiananmen Square

 

The Great Hall of the People

The Great Hall of the People was one of the "Ten Great Constructions" completed for the 10th Anniversary of the People's Republic in 1959. (View a short video clip showing the construction of the Great Hall.) This building is, in its own right, a theme palace of China, for within it there are numerous meeting halls designed and arranged to represent every province and region of China. The symbolism and decorations of the Great Hall are an emblematic crystallization of China. Nothing in it lacks significance; the overriding aesthetic is kitsch/ tack.

The Hall is the place where all major meetings, plenums, congresses and official gatherings of the Chinese Communist Party and government have been held. Chinese history, as in other socialist lands, has been delineated by plenums and congresses. History occurs within the committee room, not outside it. The Hall, therefore, is an historical site, both in its reality and its significance. The "aye" vote, symbolized by the raised hand of affirmation, is a yes to history as ordained by the party; a "nay" or abstention removes the voter from that history. In recent years, however, the once formalistic congresses held in the Hall have begun to give allow for the expression of differing views and even objections to the majority, Party-sanctioned opinions.



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