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Xi Jinping breaks taboo and enters the Forbidden City

Chinese leader may still be commander-in-chief in 2035, when he would be 82

KATSUJI NAKAZAWA, Nikkei senior staff writer | China

TOKYO -- Mao Zedong, the founding father of modern China, never once set foot inside the walls of Beijing's Forbidden City. While he did sometimes stand on the rostrum of Tiananmen -- the southernmost gate of the sprawling 72-hectare complex -- including on Oct. 1, 1949, when he declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China, he intentionally avoided entering the former home of emperors.

Perhaps it was due to his belief that as the head of the Chinese Communist Party, a party that clenched power by opposing the feudal system of government, he should not be seen admiring the imperial sites. Since then, it has been somewhat of a taboo for China's top leader to walk inside the palace, although the leaders' office, Zhongnanhai, lies next door.

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