As political commissar of the tenth detachment of the Chinese People's Armed Police Force (CAPF) Beijing division, Wang Jianhua is fully aware of the importance of his job.
"The security of Tiananmen Square is of great symbolic significance to national stability."
Wang's detachment is in charge of security around Tiananmen Square, the world's largest city square, and the geographic and symbolic center of Beijing. The security of Tiananmen Square, the Palace Museum and the National Museum of China are the responsibility of the detachment.
"Tiananmen Square is a place of utmost importance because of its political significance. This poses a tremendous challenge to our work," said Wang.
Wang's detachment has every reason to be on full alert. Being in the heart of the People's Republic of China, Tiananmen Square has been the site of many milestone events in Chinese history, including the founding of the republic.
Since the 1980s, more than 300 million people have come to Tiananmen Square to watch the flag-raising ceremony.
On the walls of the dormitory of the National Flag Guard, part of the tenth detachment responsible for the escorting, raising and defending China's national flag in the square, hangs a banner that reads "Out of this door is the No.1 sentry post of our homeland".
The prestigious post demands the best armed police force.
Efforts of the detachment have contributed to the success of marquee political events in China, including national congresses of the Communist Party of China, annual sessions of the National People's Congress and state visits of foreign leaders.
This year's CAPF Beijing combat capability competition was won by the detachment's special operations squad.
A new soldier with the National Flag Guard has to practice marching tens of thousands of steps every day. After two years of training, he will have marched more than 13,000 kilometers.
The region around Tiananmen Square and the Palace Museum is home to some of Beijing's most famous architecture. Construction of new buildings is generally not allowed, so the detachment has to make do with old buildings.
"Our dormitories may not be the best, but our morale is unrivalled," said Du Zeheng, logistics head at the detachment.
Proud to serve
The detachment works in the public eye.
"People see in us the image of Chinese military, so we always keep our boots highly polished and our uniforms spotless," said Zhang Haizhou, a squad leader with the detachment.
"Sometimes tourists and their children salute us. That always makes us proud," said Zhang.
Zhang recalled a policeman from Australia who asked for a photograph with him while he was on duty. After Zhang told him it was against the regulations, the policeman praised Zhang for his sense of duty.
During important international meetings or gatherings, such as the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the soldiers act as guards for state guests. Soldiers with better English help others to learn simple dialogue.
"Newer soldiers generally have better education and are better at English," said Liu Yu, 23, who scored 130 points out of 150 in the English test of China's college entrance examination before joining the military. "What's interesting is when foreigners try to talk with us in simple Chinese," added Liu.
In 2015, the main avenue fronting Tiananmen Square was outfitted with an explosion-proof bottom layer, prior to the military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory in the anti-fascist war.
Local road maintenance authorities said the explosion-proof layer was for security and air defense purposes, making the avenue about 120 centimeters thick, China News Service reported.
Meanwhile, 215 flagstones outside the Tiananmen rostrum were replaced. The flagstone road, which is 400 meters long and 80 meters wide, was first laid in 1958.