By Peter Sharp in Beijing
It is not much of a view, but for Bao Tong who is beginning his 13th year under house arrest it is his world.
Looking out across waste ground from his nondescript sixth-floor apartment in a shabby block in West Beijing, he tells me this is where he will die.
"Welcome to my glass prison," he says.
Bao Tong is the most senior Chinese Communist Party official to be jailed following the Tiananmen Square uprising. He was convicted in 1989 of passing information on the imposition of martial law to the students.
He served a seven-year term of imprisonment. But the Party never forgets those of its own who deviate from the path and on his release he was immediately placed under house arrest.
To visit Bao Tong is to take part in a carefully choreographed display of police bureaucracy.
A guard opens the door to the apartment block. In the darkened, freezing cold concrete lobby another police officer sits behind a plain metal desk. He takes your press credentials and carefully, slowly transcribes them by hand into a ruled notebook.
Then you are allowed to pass through another door and left to take the lift to the sixth floor.
In an irritating act of pettiness the guards have removed all the numbers to the apartments on the sixth floor providing another minor, if annoying, obstacle to those who dare visit.
But it is the randomness of his incarceration that is so unsettling. Some days his guards will actually allow him to leave the apartment building. Some days they will follow him. Some days they won't.
On some occasions he is allowed to go to lunch. Some days the guards will take an adjoining table and order their meal with him. On other days he will be left alone.
If he takes the subway he is tracked by a man on a cell phone who reports to a car above when he exits the station.
His phone is tapped and has been cut off completely for months.
It is not a life - more an existence that has been placed on hold.
But years of house arrest have done little, if anything, to crush his political beliefs.
He is 75 now but looks a good 15 years younger, and in a firm voice makes it clear he regrets nothing.
"I am still the same person I was then. At the time, I thought the use of military force by Deng Xiaoping to suppress the students was wrong, was criminal. I still think this. Back then, I felt it was the right thing to do to oppose Deng Xiaoping. And today I still feel I was right."
He is convinced if democracy comes to China it will come from below, rather than above.
"When Chinese people stand up for their freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, freedom to set up their own political party, and freedom of religion - this will be the start of democracy."
Despite his house arrest, Bao Tong remains surprisingly well-informed about events in China. He spoke knowingly of recent political demonstrations in the south, never covered by state media.
The visit of Gordon Brown gave him the opportunity to compare and contrast life in Britain and China.
"In England, people can say what they want. They can praise Gordon Brown, or they can criticise him. But Chinese people can only praise the Communist Party," he said.
"England has freedom of speech, China doesn't. England has freedom of the press, China doesn't. England has freedom to vote, China doesn't. In Chinese elections, the Communist party gives you five candidates for five positions. You can only choose those five. And they call these elections."
Bao Tong insisted on accompanying us to the ground floor to say goodbye.
A guard held the door open for us. Bao Tong stood in the doorway, gave us a wave and a smile before turning round and, looking straight ahead, walked to take the lift back to the sixth floor.
He never once acknowledged the presence of his warders.