The Tank Man of Tiananmen Square


The “Tank Man,” otherwise known as as “Unknown Rebel,” single-handedly on this date in 1989 brought to a halt a line of tanks the day after the deadly forcible removal of student protesters from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Given that these soldiers had likely assisted in the mass murder of as many as thousands of young peaceful protesters, the stubborn bravery of this still unidentified man is inspiring.

The Chinese do not allow access to this clip on Google. Virtually no one under the age of thirty even knows about it.

Frye in Notebook 50:

June 1989. The massacre of the students in Tiananmen Square and the utter complacency of the senility squad about it, their confidence that all they have to do is to keep repeating the big lie, has definitely established Marxism, from Lenin on, as what Blake calls the Synagogue of Satan. Nobody can support a Marxist political movement anywhere now without being, on the Burke principle, not just a mistaken man but a bad man. (CW 5, 406)

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2 thoughts on “The Tank Man of Tiananmen Square

  1. Michael Happy Post author

    You appear to be right, Jonathan. The number of deaths was always a surmise because of what now seems to be inaccurate reporting on the scene, because there were armored vehicles and thousands of people involved, because the scene was sequestered, and because the lights were shut off before the raid began. Moreover, there were undeniably deaths which the Chinese government would not admit to. However, based upon what I’ve just read following your lead, there were many more deaths outside of the Square (for which there is much footage) as people attempted to prevent the army from reaching it. It’s worth recalling that the movement was not just a “student protest”: it had taken hold of much of the city too, and represented workers and householders as well. You can see the PBS documentary, The Tank Man, which details this fact, here:


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