Monument to the People's Heroes

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The Monument to the People's Heroes is a ten-story obelisk that was erected as a national monument of the People's Republic of China. The Monument was built in memory of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the revolutionary struggles of the Chinese people during the 19th and 20th centuries. 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. The monument was designed by architect Liang Sicheng, with some elements designed by his wife, Lin Huiyin.

Sources differ on the height of the monument, with estimates ranging from 37.94 metres in height. It covers an area of 32,000 square feet (3,000 square metres).

The monument was constructed from August 1952 to May 1958 and is located to the north of Mao Zedong's mausoleum on the southern edge of Tiananmen Square.

The monument weighs over 10,000 metric tons and contains about 17,000 pieces of marble and granite from Qingdao, Shandong Province and Fangshan District outside Beijing.

On the pedestal of the tablet there are eight huge bas-relieves carved out of white marble covering the revolutionary episodes, which are depictions of Chinese struggle from the First Opium War in 1840 to the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. The relieves can be read in chronological order in a clockwise direction from the east:

On the front of the monument there is an inscription in Mao Zedong's handwriting, which reads "Eternal glory to the people's heroes!" (Chinese: 人民英雄永垂不朽; pinyin: Rénmín yīngxióng yǒngchuí bùxiǔ; literally "People's heroes forever upright not decayed").

On the back of the monument, there is a message which was drafted by Mao Zedong and written by Zhou Enlai: "Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who laid down their lives in the people's war of liberation and the people's revolution in the past three years! Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who laid down their lives in the people's war of liberation and the people's revolution in the past thirty years! Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who from 1840 laid down their lives in the many struggles against domestic and foreign enemies and for national independence and the freedom and well-being of the people!" (Note: the "past three years" refers roughly to the Chinese Liberation War (1946–1949); the "past thirty years" refers to the New Democratic Revolution from the May Fourth Movement in 1919 to the end of the revolution in 1949; and "from 1840" refers to the general struggle of the Chinese people against the various external and internal strife engulfing China from the beginning of the First Opium War to the establishment of the People's Republic of China.

Commemoration activities

The conduct of commemoration activities at the Monument to the People's Heroes is regulated by the Major Events Administration Office of the Tiananmen Area Administrative Committee. Strict rules apply to conduct within the vicinity of the Monument. In particular, climbing the monument beyond the protective barrier without prior approval is prohibited, as is photography and filming. Those intending to lay wreaths at the monument must apply five days in advance.

Since 1980, it has been customary for visiting foreign dignitaries, especially from countries with historical alliances with the People's Republic of China such as former Soviet Union states, to lay wreaths at the Monument when visiting Beijing. Certain domestic groups, such as police and military units, would also sometimes lay wreaths at the Monument.

Aside from officially sanctioned commemoration, the Monument has also been the centre of large-scale mourning activities that later developed into protest and unrest. One notable example of such events is the spontaneous commemoration centred on the Monument following the death of Premier Zhou Enlai, which developed into the Tiananmen Square protests of 1976. Another example is the spontaneous commemoration centred on the Monument following the death of Hu Yaobang, which formed part of the protest action that developed into the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.