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Monday, June 28, 1999 Published at 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Tiananmen Square reopens

Last touches to the square were made over the weekend

By BBC Beijing Correspondent Duncan Hewitt

Beijing's Tiananmen Square is open to the public again after eight months of renovation which kept it closed during the sensitive10th anniversary of China's crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement based in the square.

The world's largest square and the symbolic heart of the Chinese capital reopened at dawn on Monday, to the excitement of several thousand Chinese tourists.

The grey concrete paving stones have been replaced with pink granite and the massive space, capable of holding more than a million people, now has two swathes of green lawn down its eastern and western fringes.

The martyrs' memorial in its centre, headquarters for the student protesters 10 years ago, is now a freshly scrubbed white and thousands of new lights and a modern public address system have been installed.

[ image: All over the city, buildings are being demolished]
All over the city, buildings are being demolished
Chinese media proudly hailed it as the country's number one construction project.

Its eight-month duration meant that the square was concealed behind green hoardings on the 10th anniversary of the crushing of the 1989 protests earlier this month.

Renovations of surrounding buildings, including the Tiananmen Gate, continue as Beijing prepares for the October the first celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic.

To ensure order, the authorities have announced a ban on spitting, vending and ball games on the square and anyone wishing to indulge in the popular hobby of flying kites on the square will from now on have to apply to the Office of Kite Affairs, which is not due to open for another month.

It is the latest in a series of anniversary-related measures in Beijing, including the demolition of some two million square metres of illegal structures, many of them popular restaurants and market stalls.

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