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30 Years After Tiananmen, ‘Tank Man’ Remains an Icon and a Mystery

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tags: Tiananmen Square, Chinese history, Protest, Tank Man



He has become a global symbol of freedom and defiance, immortalized in photos, television shows, posters and T-shirts.

But three decades after the Chinese Army crushed demonstrations centered on Tiananmen Square, “Tank Man” — the person who boldly confronted a convoy of tanks barreling down a Beijing avenue — is as much a mystery as ever.

In an age of cyber-sleuthing and intense media scrutiny, it has become almost impossible for historical figures to remain anonymous. But 30 years later, Tank Man is still a source of enduring fascination and intrigue.

Tank Man was photographed on June 5, 1989, in the immediate aftermath of a deadly government campaign to clear Tiananmen Square of protesters.

Many of the images of the crackdown showed the streets of Beijing engulfed in carnage and chaos, but the image of Tank Man — a lonely figure in a crisp white shirt, clutching two shopping bags, standing defiantly before hulking armored vehicles — stood out.

Photographers and videographers for overseas news outlets capturedthe standoff from the balconies of a nearby hotel, as the tanks tried to maneuver around Tank Man and came close to running him over. Images of the encounter became some of the most recognizedphotographs of the 20th century.

Read entire article at NY Times

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