Chinese citizens around the world on Monday remembered the lone man, armed with nothing more than two shopping bags, who stepped in front of a row of tanks moving down the streets of Beijing in 1989.
Better known as “Tank Man”, he is one of the most enduring images of China’s violent military crackdown on democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, the Guardian reported.
On the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, protesters are reenacting the face-off under hashtags including #Tankman2018 #Tankmen2018, a campaign started by Chinese artist and cartoonist, Badiucao.
According to Badiucao, Tank Man represents “something lost in China‘s young generation now – the idealism, passion, sense of responsibility, and confidence that an individual can make a change”.
Badiucao gave instructions for protesters to take a photo of themselves wearing the “classic outfit” of Tank Man: white shirts, black pants, and black shoes, while holding two white bags.
Zhou Fengsuo, a Chinese activist who was a student leader during the 1989 protests, posted photos of himself in Washington, the Guardian reported. Others, from Canada to New Zealand, posted images of themselves in solidarity with Tank Man.
In 1989, Chinese students, workers and other protesters held demonstrations and hunger strikes calling for democratic reforms.
On June 4, the movement came to a halt when more than 200,000 soldiers were deployed to end the protest, killing hundreds of civilians.
On June 5, 1989, a man in a loose white shirt on a street near Tiananmen Square, walked out by a crosswalk in front of a column of tanks.
As the first tank tried to move around him, he blocked its path. The tank stopped and he climbed onto it, pounding on the hatchet and appeared to speak to a soldier inside.
When he climbed back down, he continued to block its way until two men ran over and pulled him out of the street. The moment was broadcast across the world and he became known as “Tank Man”.