Tens of thousands of Chinese witness national flag raising ceremony at dawn in Beijing
By Zhao Yunfei
It's become a New Year's Day tradition for tens of thousands of Chinese to gather at the heart of Beijing, to watch the national flag rise with the sun. The ceremony not only presents a patriotic scene, but is also a ritual for many wishing to mark the beginning of the new year.
It's the moment when the sun first shines on the New Year and touches the Chinese capital. A squad of 96 soldiers guarding the five-star red flag march across Chang'an Street.
It all takes place under the gaze of a crowd that's waited hours to witness the 46-second-long flag-raising ceremony.
The audience comes from all parts of China, and often further afield. Many of them made the trip to Beijing specially for this. But to get a good spot, they need to be up early. For many, attending the country's largest flag-raising ceremony is a major deal.
People started arriving here in Tian'anmen Square in the very early hours of this morning, and have been standing by in temperatures as low as minus-10 degrees Celsius. Chinese people share a collective ideology. They contemplate their respective fates and the country's destiny. The New Year flag-raising ceremony is seen as an occasion where they can reflect on what's passed...and look ahead to the future.
(Liu Hongcai, Wang Peng and Zhao Jing also distributed to the story.)