Just west of the Forbidden City is China's new
power enclave, Zhongnanhai. Although foreign visitors cannot enter
the complex, they can examine it from the exterior. Zhongnanhai
means "the central and south seas" and it refers to the
two large lakes in the compound. The compound was built between
the 10th and 13th centuries as a getaway spot for the emperor, but
most of the buildings date from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
After the overthrow of the imperial government
and the establishment of the republic in 1911, it served as the
presidential palace. Since the founding of the People's Republic
in 1949, Zhongnanhai has been home to the highest ranking members
of the Communist Party including Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Liu
Offices of the Central Committee of the Communist
Party, the State Council, the Central People's Government and the
Military Commission of the Party Central Committee are located here.