Thousands of Chinese forced their way through a police barricade to the door of the nation's parliament Friday on the fifth day of pro-democracy unrest that Beijing warned would not be tolerated much longer.
Thousands of people, many of them students, knocked down a rope barricade and pushed their way past dozens of armed police and up the concrete steps to the main entrance of the Great Hall of the People.The crowd, part of an increasingly unruly gathering of nearly 20,000 people in central Tiananmen Square, then receded back to the wide parking lot of the building constructed in 10 months in 1958-59 as a symbol of the power of China's masses.
Student groups continued to pour into the square, singing the socialist anthem, "Internationale," and carrying banners mourning the death of a popular leader and calling for greater political freedoms.
"Science, Democracy, Freedom," read a banner held high by students from Nankai University in nearby Tianjin, who arrived by train and marched to the square to the cheers of fellow protesters.
The banner recalled slogans used during the May 4 Movement, a widespread nationalistic and reformist movement whose 70th anniversary next month has excited students and worried a government already tense over public discontent over inflation.
Hundreds of police were stationed at the square where student demonstrators called for political freedom and an end to official corruption in speeches at the base of the Monument to the People's Heroes.
Demonstrators jeered police, with whom they have clashed twice since protests began in earnest on Monday.
Beijing authorities have threatened a crackdown on demonstrations in order to prevent "a handful of people" from exploiting grief over the death of former Communist Party chief Hu Yaobang in an attempt to "overthrow the government."