Waving Chinese flags, people crowd Tian'anmen Square in Beijing to watch the flag-raising ceremony on Jan 1, 2021. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/chinadaily.com.cn] BEIJING - With best wishes to a fresh start, thousands of visitors gathered in Tian'anmen Square in downtown Beijing at around 6 am for the first national flag-raising ceremony of 2021, after a year of a hard slog against COVID-19. Guo Jiangfeng, 37, together with his family, joined the crowds, expecting an inspiring new year for his start-up business. "Despite the impact of COVID-19, my company doubled the size in terms of employees and went full steam ahead thanks to government support measures in rent, taxes and social security fees," Guo said. Festive atmosphere was felt across the country. From Thursday night to Friday morning, the Hanshan Temple in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou livestreamed its bell ringing for the coming new year. The city of Qufu in east China's Shandong Province, the birthplace of Confucius (551-479 BC), an educator and thinker, kicked off a series of online and offline traditional folk activities including couplets-writing and bell-striking for blessings.