The Internet Reenacted the ‘Tank Man’ Photo in Honor of the Tiananmen Square Massacre Anniversary

Chinese censorship has not stopped people around the world from sharing photos of themselves standing tall and holding shopping bags in remembrance of the “Tank Man” who stood defiantly in front of tanks near Tiananmen Square 29 years ago.

The Tank Man blocked a convoy of tanks on June 5, 1989, after hundreds of thousands of people perished on Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue as the military was ordered to prevent student-led, pro-democracy protests on Tiananmen Square, according to Shanghaiist.

The official death toll is a source of controversy, as official Chinese government announcements put the number of dead anywhere between 0 to 2,700 while international sources claim upwards of 10,000 civilians slaughtered. 

A photo of the Tank Man taken on that deadly day became a global symbol of the crackdown, with images from around the world being shared on social media under the hashtags #tankman and #tankman2018 to commemorate the 29th anniversary of what is also known in China as the June Fourth Incident.

Australia-based Chinese political cartoonist Badiucao started a campaign to honor the Tank Man and showcase his “idealism, passion, sense of responsibility, and confidence that an individual can make a change.”

“Tank Man has been a visual totem for protests of China since 1989. But it is also fading away due to brutal censorship and sophisticated propaganda from the Chinese government,” Badiucao wrote on his website. “The only way to keep it alive is to represent it creatively and bring the figure relevant to what is happening contemporarily.”

via Instagram / metatron_kether

Zhou Fengsuo, a student leader who was at the 1989 protests, posed and carried shopping bags in front to the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument, USA Today reported.

Another photo shows a woman standing before the Goddess of Democracy.

Others posed on sidewalks while wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.

via Instagram / splinter356

One girl held up shopping bags as she posed next to a Winnie the Pooh plush toy, a character banned in China for mocking President Xi Jinping.

via Instagram / otabu_

Shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre, a British tabloid identified Tank Man as Wang Weilin, a 19-year-old student, and son of Beijing factory workers. But its report was unsubstantiated and the man’s whereabouts remain unclear.

Featured Image via (Left) YouTube / BBC Newsnight | (Right): Instagram / otabu_

Support our Journalism with a Contribution

Many people might not know this, but despite our large and loyal following which we are immensely grateful for, NextShark is still a small bootstrapped startup that runs on no outside funding or loans.

Everything you see today is built on the backs of warriors who have sacrificed opportunities to help give Asians all over the world a bigger voice.

However, we still face many trials and tribulations in our industry, from figuring out the most sustainable business model for independent media companies to facing the current COVID-19 pandemic decimating advertising revenues across the board.

We hope you consider making a contribution so we can continue to provide you with quality content that informs, educates and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way. Thank you for everyone’s support. We love you all and can’t appreciate you guys enough.

NextShark is a leading source covering Asian American News and Asian News including business, culture, entertainment, politics, tech and lifestyle.

For advertising and inquiries: info@nextshark.com