The official Xinhua News Agency said several tourists and policemen also were injured in the accident in front the iconic Tiananmen Gate around noon on Monday.
The gate is one of the southern entrances to the former imperial palace and stands at the top of sprawling Tiananmen Square. The area around the square is one of China's most closely guarded and politically sensitive public venues. Many of China's leaders live and work nearby.
Photos from the scene posted to the Internet showed flames and thick smoke spewing from the vehicle.
Take ABC13 with you!
Download our free apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices