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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Renovated Tiananmen Reopened




BEIJING -- After eight months under wraps, a refurbished Tiananmen Square reopened to the public Monday with new tank-proof paving, rules against chewing gum and a regulation that temporarily banished one of the plaza's greatest charms f its kite flyers.


The square, China's symbolic political heart and home to pro-democracy protests in 1989, had been closed since last October for a face-lift ahead of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Communist China on Oct. 1.


Thousands of people gathered at dawn Monday to watch a military guard perform with clockwork precision the unfurling of China's red flag on the north end of the square, the world's largest.


But the kite enthusiasts who would daily turn the square's skies into a ballet of colors and shapes were absent.


The 156,900 square meters of granite slabs, which replaced concrete paving, should last 50 years without a change, and it's so tough that if armored vehicles drive on it, they "won't have any effect," the Beijing Youth Daily report said.


Two soccer-pitch length strips of lawn have been planted on both sides of the new-look square to break up the whitish-gray expanse. Also added are new lights and blue trash cans in environmentally friendly pairs f one for organic waste, the other for non-organic.


In a bow to foreign tourists for whom a visit to the square is a must, the bins are marked in English, with the word "receptacl" misspelled down the side.


He Zengtang, 63, a retired researcher who was among the hordes of people strolling across the square, taking souvenir photos and sweltering in the heat, gave the renovation a big thumbs up.


"It's much better," said He. "The more it changes, the better it gets."


Days after China ruled to restrict immigration into Hong Kong, the territory's government on Monday outlined new rules to shut the door to more than 1 million mainland people who want to move.


Secretary for Security Regina Ip told lawmakers that Hong Kong intends to let several thousand migrants stay f even though they could have been thrown out by China's new interpretation of the Hong Kong constitution.


But opposition lawmakers said the government should allow more people to stay because its proposals have been unfairly applied to mainlanders now living illegally in Hong Kong.


Beijing's National People's Congress reversed Saturday a ruling by Hong Kong's highest court to give more mainlanders the right to live in Hong Kong.


Hundreds of people who now face deportation to the mainland staged a third day of protests Monday outside Hong Kong immigration offices.