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Monday, April 10, 2006 

Who is the Tank Man?

This may be of interest to those who are in North America or have access to PBS broadcast on television.

Frontline is going to air a program on the mysterious tank man who tried to stop the tanks from moving into Tiananmen Square during the student protest in 1989.
"On June 5, 1989, one day after Chinese troops expelled thousands of demonstrators from Tiananmen Square in Beijing, a solitary, unarmed protester stood his ground before a column of tanks advancing down the Avenue of Eternal Peace. Captured by Western photographers watching nearby, this extraordinary confrontation became an icon of the fight for freedom around the world. In The Tank Man, airing April 11, 2006, from 9 to 10:30 P.M. ET on PBS, veteran filmmaker Antony Thomas investigates the mystery of the tank man--his identity, his fate, and his significance for China today."

See here for details.

I remember it was just over Christmas vacation that the tank man slipped into a conversation that I had with a former Beijing resident who is now living abroad. He both the tank man and the soldier who operated the tank were executed.

"Why was the soldier executed, since he didn't commit any crimes," I asked.

He said that was because the soldier didn't follow the orders and enter the square. He made the Chinese government lost face in front of the entire world since the scene was "leaked" to western media. Besides, the government wanted to deny that very scene had taken place, and so it killed the key people who were in the scene. At least, that, I trust, was which the government denied tagain to seal the truth - at least this is what I was told, by a former Beijing resident who had probably heard this information through word-of-mouth from other Beijing residents.

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