Military compound on western Long Peace Street
Image caption and source
Military compound on western Long Peace Street (with permission from Manchester University Press)

Contemporary China Centre talk

Across the centre of Beijing, Long Peace Street cuts an arrow-straight, 20-mile line. At its centre, the so-called ‘Number One Street of China’ divides the Forbidden City, home to generations of Chinese emperors, and Tiananmen Square, the vast granite square constructed to glorify a new China under Communist rule.

It is a storied stretch of the Middle Kingdom, littered with physical and architectural reminders of the seemingly unrelenting drama of China’s recent past: national cemeteries, communist party boltholes and high-security military sites, as well as ministries, museums and governmental compounds. In 2016, Jonathan walked its length from west to east, a journey related in his travelogue, Long Peace Street

Using archive and modern photographs, Jonathan’s talk on his latest book, Long Peace Street: A Walk in Modern China takes the audience with him on a journey across China’s capital – but also through the China’s twentieth century, from the fall of the Qing dynasty to the modern day, excavating some of the fascinating stories Long Peace Street has to tell. 

The book has received numerous accolades from renowned historians, including Professor Peter Frankopan who described Long Peace Street as bringing “to life the past - and present - of one of the world's great cities in an account that is as thoughtful as it is informative.” Chinese historian Professor Rana Mitter has praised Chatwin for his “thoughtful and deeply-informed account of modern China through the marvellous device of a stroll down Beijing's longest avenue - and all in lucid and compelling prose.”

Professor Gerda Wielander, an expert in Chinese Studies who has done fascinating research on city walls in China will be participating as discussant.


Room UG 05, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW