A fearless Chinese woman is now being referred to online as the “new tank man” for her defiance against riot police during a violent protest dispersal in China.
Footage of the still unidentified woman refusing to move as she films troops beating other protesters has gone viral on Chinese social media amid growing discontent toward the Chinese government’s strict zero-COVID policy.
Her moniker is derived from the unknown protester who stood in front of a row of Type 59 tanks during the student-led Tiananmen protests in Beijing on June 5, 1989.
Footage of the incident shows the man standing in front of the first tank to block the path of the tanks leaving Tiananmen Square. The man even climbs the lead tank and appears to speak to whoever was inside.
The iconic imagery of the “Tiananmen tank man” has become a symbol of the Chinese people’s resistance to its government.
Social media users have drawn a parallel between the defiance of the 1989 protester and the woman, who faced potential harm to document their violent treatment of protesters.
In the 25-second video shared by journalist Yashar Ali on Twitter, the woman is seen filming the riot police in full combat gear as they move toward the protesters and begin attacking them.
Shortly after, two officers confront her, with one smacking the mobile phone out of her hand while the other pushes her into what appear to be health workers wearing anti-COVID personal protective equipment suits. The woman is then dragged away by three of the purported health workers.
“Watch this brave woman stand strong and continue to film the abuses of Chinese government security forces,” Ali tweeted. “She then gets beaten herself! While we support the people of Iran, we must also support the brave people of China as they take on the totalitarian CCP!”
The clip ends when the person filming the incident is also confronted by a different health official, who is seen entering the frame before they swat away the cell phone being used to record.
In a rare display of defiance to the ruling Chinese Communist Party, the protesters have also started calling for the resignation of President Xi Jinping.
In Shanghai and Beijing, protestors have been presenting blank pieces of paper, similar to what Hong Kong protesters did during the 2020 demonstrations when China banned slogans and phrases linked to subversion.
“If the government were to release a blacklist of words, I am afraid it would have to update the list every day,” a Hong Kong protester told the AFP news agency at the time. “If you say the white papers are unlawful too then I will come out with papers in other colors.”