Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Stubborn reporters trying to cover the “6/4” milestone have encountered an equally resolute Interior Ministry determined to make this a non-event. Google searches done on Chinese networks for “Tiananmen Square” return photos of a pristine tourist attraction.
Instead of photos of massive pro-democracy rallies from the “Chinese Spring:”
And the subsequent brutal crackdown by the People’s Liberation Army.
No one knows how many were killed. As few as hundreds, maybe up to thousands.
And censors have successfully purged mentions of “6/4,” “tank,” “crush,” “never forget” and or any veiled reference to a “non-event” that never occurred that day and the days afterward.
But myths have a way of surviving and thriving. A day after the non-event, a man carrying two shopping bags faced down a column of tanks leaving Tiananmen. The lead tank tried to move around him, only to find him in the way again and again. No one really knows what happened to Tankman, but PBS’ “Frontline” did a great documentary about this moment and what it meant for China in the years that followed.
And here’s a good anniversary piece from Time magazine.